Brent oil up 20 cents but off four-year high

Brent oil up 20 cents but off four-year high

Oil prices steadied today as U.S. sanctions on Tehran squeezed Iranian crude exports, tightening supply even as other key exporters increased production.

Global crude oil benchmark Brent was up 20 cents at $81.92 a barrel by 8.20am GMT. The contract hit a four-year high of $82.55 this week but has been fairly stable during the third quarter, gaining around 3% since the end of June.

U.S. light crude was 20 cents higher at $72.32 a barrel. It is up around 3.5% in September, but down 2.6% since the end of June.

U.S. sanctions on Iran kick in on November 4, as Washington asks buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports to zero to force Tehran to negotiate a new nuclear agreement and to curb its influence in the Middle East.

Analysts say that other OPEC countries have been increasing production in recent months but global inventories have been falling as supply tightens, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia is expected to add extra oil to the market over the next couple of months to offset the drop in Iranian production.

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