SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rallied by about 3 percent on Monday to their highest since late 2018 as the United States was set to announce that all imports of Iranian oil must end or be subject to sanctions.
Brent crude futures rose as much as 3.3 percent to $74.31 a barrel, the highest since Nov. 1, before easing back to $73.82 by 0452 GMT, up 2.6 percent from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed by as much as 2.9 percent to $65.87 per barrel, the most since Oct. 31, and were at $65.38 at 0452 GMT, up 2.6 percent from their last close.
News that the United States is preparing to announce on Monday that current buyers of Iranian oil would no longer be given waivers to current sanctions was first reported on Sunday by Washington Post foreign policy and national security columnist Josh Rogin.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce “that, as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate,” Rogin said, citing two State Department officials that he did not name.
A person familiar with the situation told Reuters the report was accurate, although a State Department spokesman declined to comment.
In March, Iran was the fourth-largest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at 2.75 million barrels per day (bpd) though exports have shrunk to about 1 million bpd since sanctions were reimposed in November.