IEA: LOW IMPACT SANCTIONS
US and EU sanctions on Russia's oil sector are unlikely to have a major effect on production, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday, chiming with comments from some market watchers that the restrictions are toothless.
"Neither set of sanctions will have any tangible near term impact on supplies. Even for the medium term, their impact appears questionable," the energy watchdog for wealthy nations said in its widely-followed monthly oil market report .
"EU sanctions are highly selective, exclude agreed contracts, and can only be extended past one year by consensus. Their 'perimeter' seems loosely defined, potentially leaving room for finding ways around the most constraining measures," it added.
The west adopted restrictions that affect new contracts related to Russia's oil sector after the downing of a civilian airliner in eastern Ukraine intensified tensions between both countries.
The sanctions, which are not retroactive, affect new exports and investments by EU-based entities in deep water, arctic, and non-conventional, or shale, exploration and development.
Crucially, however, the EU restrictions sidestep the conventional oil sector, as well as the natural gas sector, both of which are highly important to Europe. Russia supplies about a third of Europe's natural gas and exports more than 6m barrels of a crude a day.
Although the US sanctions are broader in scope, the IEA said the omission of the natural gas sector by the EU "will probably mean that technological transfer and investment on shale plays will not be as greatly impeded as would otherwise be the case. This is because much of the technology overlaps and also because it can be difficult for regulators to draw a distinction."
Any longer term implications for Russian production, which some market participants have been wary of, would mean the EU sanctions would have to remain in place for some time. They are currently set to expire in one year.
The watchdog did say that Russian companies may be more conservative with their spending. Rosneft could also find its acquisition of Morgan Stanley's energy trading unit less lucrative, as oil trading activities with the west are limited. Additionally, Russian crude demand could also fall.
On the oil market, the IEA said despite geopolitical upheavals and several key oil producing countries being "more at risk than ever", energy markets were well supplied.
Stocks in the Atlantic Basin as well as the North Sea remain plentiful, compounding the effect of large increases in North American oil production, the agency said, which suggests oil prices are unlikely to rise much soon. On Tuesday, ICE September Brent, the front-month futures contract, fell 1.3 per cent to a nine-month low of $103.33 a barrel. In June, as Sunni militants swept across northern Iraq, it was trading at $115.
The opening of two long-blockaded Libyan crude export terminals is likely to hold down the price of crude even as fighting between rival armed factions in the country's capital intensifies.
"A significant and lasting recovery is likely to be some time off," the IEA said, but "fragile gains in Libyan output appear to be holding for now".
Turning to Iraq, where supply disruptions have also been limited, the IEA said logistical constraints in southern Iraq may prove a bigger hurdle to bolstering output than violence in the north.
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Instead, with the planned referendum just days away, Russian state oil giant Rosneft announced its latest investment last week, to help Iraqi Kurdistan develop its natural gas industry, for domestic supplies and eventual export.
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