What to Watch

Trump to Make Announcement on Iran Nuclear Deal Tuesday

Energy investors are waiting for word on whether the U.S. will withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord, after President Donald Trump said he would announce on Tuesday his decision on the agreement that he has criticized in the past.

Analysts said chances are slim that the Trump administration will choose to maintain the 2015 accord forged with Iran and six world powers.

The deal lifted economic sanctions on Tehran and allowed the country to boost its oil production in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

Some European officials are holding out hope that Mr. Trump, after leaving the agreement, would move slowly to reimpose sanctions, which would leave more time for negotiations, write the WSJ’s Michael R. Gordon, Felicia Schwartz and Ian Talley.

The message came as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made a last-minute appeal to save the accord, including meetings with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and an appearance on one of Mr. Trump’s favorite television programs, “Fox & Friends.”

“We need to find a way of fixing that and the president has been right to call attention to it,” Mr. Johnson said on Fox. “But you can’t do that without just throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

Mr. Trump tweeted Monday that he would announce his decision at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, oil prices edged down Tuesday morning after closing at more-than-three-year highs the day prior, as the market paused ahead of Mr. Trump’s expected decision over the Iran nuclear deal.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was down 0.96% to $75.44 a barrel on London’s Intercontinental Exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading down 1.23% at $69.88 a barrel.

Energy News

Iran Moves Ahead With Oil Export Project Despite Looming Sanctions

Iran is preparing to ship the first  batches of its West Karoun crude oil grade for May or June, amid concerns that the U.S. will reimpose economic sanctions against the country, Reuters reports.

“We expect little Iran production effect in 2018 if the waiver is not renewed. Many European buyers would likely suspend purchases in the short term.”

– Analysts at Barclays

Uranium Loses Power as U.S. Miners Seek Protection

Miners have petitioned the Trump administration in January for a cap on imports of uranium used in nuclear-power generation, because of fears that falling world prices for the radioactive material could further harm embattled U.S. uranium producers.

The price of U3O8, a common uranium compound used mainly in nuclear-power generation, has already sunk 12% this year to roughly $21 a pound—near its 12-year low of $18, struck in 2016—according to the Ux Consulting Co.

WSJ Energy In-Depth

With Oil Above $70, Investors Bullish on Energy Again

Energy companies are back in vogue with investors  as their shares have increased in value in tandem with crude’s rising fortunes, write the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Wursthorn and Akane Otani.

In the past, wary investors avoided the energy sector after many market participants lost their shirts  when oil prices began skidding in 2014 from above $100 a barrel to under $30.

Even as prices showed signs of rebounding earlier in 2018, wary investors shunned the S&P 500 energy zone, which suffered its worst  three-month stretch in three years in the first quarter.

Now fears that bubbling Middle East tensions could disrupt oil production have pushed crude prices sharply higher in recent weeks.

Profits rebounded at the world’s biggest oil companies, with Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. last month posting their best first-quarter results in years.

Not all investors are convinced that crude prices will remain high.

“The oil rally might last longer, but I’m skeptical about whether oil prices stay where they are,” said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

Big Number

6.5 million

State firm Qatar Petroleum is continuing its expansion plans despite an economic blockade that has hurt Doha, Reuters reports. Qatar Petroleum currently produces 4.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day but wants to to increase its production to 6.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in the coming 8 years.


May 10: Africa Oil & Power is holding its first investor forum in London. The speakers include Pablo Galante Escobar, the head of LNG for Vitol, and Gabriel M. Obiang Lima the minister of mines and hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea.

June 5-6th: The London Crude Oil Summit. The speakers include Franco Magnani CEO of Eni Trading and Shipping.