U.S. benchmark WTI crude oil futures (CL1:COM) fell 0.8% Friday to end the week -2.2% at $91.07/bbl, marking their first weekly decline in nine weeks, as the outlook for increased Iranian oil exports overshadowed the threat to supply from Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Oil’s fade sent the energy sector (NYSEARCA:XLE) to the bottom of the S&P sector standings for the week, -3.4%, after topping the leaderboard for the previous three weeks.
Reuters reported a draft agreement for a series of steps that would bring Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, but it did not include immediate waivers on oil sanctions.
“There is no doubt that a lifting of Iranian oil export sanctions could soften the blow against the potential disruption of a Russia-Ukraine war,” Price Futures Group’s Phil Flynn told MarketWatch.
But an eventual removal of sanctions on Iranian oil would “not even come close to offsetting a potential supply disruption or sanctions against Russian oil,” according to DTN analyst Troy Vincent.
Crude prices have reached levels not seen since 2014, and three of the largest shale fracking companies – Pioneer Natural Resources, Devon Energy and Continental Resources – this week reported their highest annual profits in more than a decade, but U.S. frackers so far have resisted the urge to raise production, preferring to return cash to investors via dividends and buybacks.