Home Investing News Oil little changed after death of Iran’s president, Saudi king’s ill health

Oil little changed after death of Iran’s president, Saudi king’s ill health

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By Natalie Grover

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices steadied on Monday amid political uncertainty in major producing countries after Iran’s president died in a helicopter crash and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince deferred a trip to Japan on account of his father, the king’s, health.

Brent was down 24 cents at $83.74 a barrel by 0958 GMT. The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for June, set to expire on Tuesday, edged 33 cents lower to $79.73 a barrel in tepid trade. The more-active July contract was down 28 cents at $79.3.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner long seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near the Azerbaijan border, officials and state media said on Monday.

Iranian oil policy should be unaffected by the president’s sudden death, as Khamenei holds ultimate power with a final say on all state matters.

Separately, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman postponed his visit to Japan, scheduled to begin on Monday, because of a health issue with his father King Salman, said Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Saul Kavonic, an energy analyst at MST Marquee, said the market is already accustomed to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s leadership in the energy sector.

“Continuity in Saudi strategy is expected regardless of this health issue,” he said.

Meanwhile in Europe, another Russian energy facility was hit. The Slavyansk oil refinery, located in the Krasnodar region, was damaged after a weekend drone attack, state-run TASS reported on Monday, citing a company security official.

Russia has reported a rise in Ukrainian attacks on its territory since its forces opened a new front in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region earlier this month.

“The oil market remains largely rangebound and without any fresh catalyst we will likely have to wait for clarity around OPEC+ output policy in order to break out of this range,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together known as OPEC+, are scheduled to meet on June 1.

“The market also appears increasingly numb to developments on the geopolitical front, likely due to the large amount of spare capacity OPEC is sitting on,” Patterson said.

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