JERUSALEM – President Obama has been engaged in secret, back-channel talks with Iran in which he informed Tehran’s leaders he is completely opposed to any Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to informed Middle Eastern officials.
The officials told WND the behind-the-scenes talks aim to secure a guarantee from Iran that it will not retaliate against the U.S. in the event of any Israeli military strike, the officials said.
Premier Wen Jiabao talks with family members of Abdul-Rahman Ali Al-Jeraisy, president of the Saudi Arabia-China Friendship Association, during a visit to his home in Riyadh on Sunday. Liu Weibing / Xinhua
Economic Collapse Blog…
The largest oil exporter in the Middle East has teamed up with the second largest consumer of oil in the world (China) to build a gigantic new oil refinery and the mainstream media in the United States has barely even noticed it. This mammoth new refinery is scheduled to be fully operational in the Red Sea port city of Yanbu by 2014. Over the past several years, China has sought to aggressively expand trade with Saudi Arabia, and China now actually imports more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States does. In February, China imported 1.39 millionbarrels of oil per day from Saudi Arabia. That was 39 percent higher than last February. So why is this important? Well, back in 1973 the United States and Saudi Arabia agreed that all oil sold by Saudi Arabia would be denominated in U.S. dollars. This petrodollar system was adopted by almost the entire world and it has had great benefits for the U.S. economy. But if China becomes Saudi Arabia’s most important trading partner, then why should Saudi Arabia continue to only sell oil in U.S. dollars? And if the petrodollar system collapses, what is that going to mean for the U.S. economy?
Signs that crude futures may hit much higher levels are converging, say oil traders and analysts, some of whom predict that Brent [LCOCV1 122.70 -1.50 (-1.21%) ] crude could reach $200 a barrel within the next 12 months.
The biggest issue, they say, is that global crude supply remains uncommonly tight — a scenario that’s unlikely to be alleviated any time soon.
Even though Libya’s oil has largely returned online after the political disruptions that took it off the market last year, and Saudi Arabia is generating its highest output in three decades, the available crude is just barely meeting demand. The summer driving season in the U.S., which begins in April, could put further pressure on prices.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde, speaking in New Delhi, warned that crude oil prices may spike by up to 30 percent if Iranian supplies were disrupted, causing "serious consequences" for the global economy.
AFP – IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned Tuesday that crude oil prices may spike by up to 30 percent if Iranian supplies were disrupted, causing “serious consequences” for the global economy.
The standoff between Iran, the world’s second-largest supplier of oil, and the West over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is seen as a flashpoint that could sharply increase world crude prices.
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The Financial Times…
Saudi Arabia is taking steps to cool the overheating global energy market, boosting its exports to the US and re-opening old oilfields to expand production, as the world’s largest oil producer tries to prevent damage to the global economic recovery.
The Saudi cabinet on Monday said the kingdom would work “individually” and with others for the “return [of] oil prices to fair levels”. Riyadh recently said it aimed to keep oil prices at $100.
Related: RUSSIAN TROOPS ENTER SYRIA
Joel C. Rosenberg…
I’m heading to southern California today to speak at the upcoming “Israel, The Church and the Middle East Crisis” conference at Biola University and Talbot Seminary.
Last night, I was on an afternoon drive-time radio show in Los Angeles. The host and I spent about an hour discussing the latest tensions in the epicenter and previewing some of the points I’m planning to raise at the conference.
Related: It’s Official – US, UK To Release Strategic Oil Stocks
Update: as we hit print, we see headlines that the UK will cooperate with the US on bilateral agreement to release oil stocks. Crude down big on the news, which is merely an advance move ahead of almost inevitable war with Iran, simply to make the spike more palatable.
The push to get Iran to do something terminally irrational (now that USS Enterprise in its final tour of duty is almost on location just off the side of CVN-70 Lincoln and CVN-72 Vinson in the Arabian Sea, where the US will shortly have not one, not two, but three aircraft carriers) is now in its final stretch. As AP reported earlier, Iran has been now entirely cut off from the global financial system, as that anchor of international financial transactions, SWIFT, has just taken Iran off the grid. This leaves Iran with just three options for international trade: making gold into a fully convertible currency, barter, or exchanging Rials for Renminbi and other local currencies.
Global Oil Supply Shocks...
While WTI hovers around $105.5 (slightly underperforming USD strength), Brent has notably outperformed with the Brent-WTI spread now edging towards $20 (from under $15 two weeks ago). Given the increasing tension, we thought it useful to get a grasp of just what an oil-supply shock means. BNP points out that in all but one of the historical oil price shocks of the last 40 years, equities have notably underperformed oil (understandably) but the higher the oil price rise, the higher the chance of negative absolute returns for stocks. We also note that oil prices tend to rise in anticipation of the crisis and then explode (so arguing that we are discounting an event is proved moot) and the impact (in lost supply) from closing the Straits of Hormuz is an order of magnitude larger than the next five largest events. Regionally, positioning favors the middle-eastern oil producers obviously with Asian EM nations set to suffer dramatically worse than DMs.
From The Financial Times…
Oil leapt to the highest level since the market peak of mid-2008 in a frenzy of buying that followed a disputed report of a pipeline blast in Saudi Arabia.
The report, swiftly denied by a Saudi official, was posted on web sites including PressTV, an English-language news channel based in Tehran. Iran is the Saudi kingdom’s main rival in the Middle East oil market, and stands to lose market share as western sanctions increase over its nuclear programme.
(photo of the pipeline under fire)
Among the many factors responsible for the jump in WTI to just shy of $109 over the past hour, and Brent to new records in various currencies, is the following news reported so far only by Iranian PressTV: “An explosion has hit oil pipelines in the flashpoint Saudi Arabian city of Awamiyah in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province.“