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Pompeo touts oil price drop, says US working to find supplies for Iran's customers

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Pompeo touts oil price drop, says US working to find supplies for Iran's customers

Washington — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touted Friday's drop in Brent crude oil futures and signaled that the Trump administration might be comfortable with oil prices as long as they stay below the mid-$70s/b.

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"Brent crude is below ... the price that it was at the day that this administration chose to pull out of the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]," Pompeo said in an interview Monday with The Hill newspaper.

Pompeo added that the US is working to find alternate suppliers for Iran's oil customers after the Trump administration decided not to extend any sanctions waivers when they expire this week. Tehran's remaining oil customers -- China, India, South Korea, Turkey and Japan -- will have to find other sources or risk US sanctions enforcement.

"We produce as much crude oil as anybody out there," Pompeo said of the US. "And so we're convinced we can make sure that the markets are adequately supplied."

President Donald Trump announced on May 8, 2018, that the US would leave the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran's oil customers in November. Front-month Brent futures closed at $74.85/b on that date, but jumped to $77.21/b the following day as the market fully digested the possible supply impacts.

Crude futures closed sharply lower Friday, after Trump twice weighed in on oil supply by saying he had asked Saudi Arabia and other OPEC producers to increase output and lower prices.

ICE June Brent remained lower Monday morning, down 14 cents at $72.01/b, and NYMEX June WTI was 23 cents lower at $63.07/b.

Pompeo reiterated that the US would strictly enforce the Iran sanctions once the waivers expire.

"Sovereign nations make their own choices; individual businesses inside of that will make their own choices," Pompeo said.

"What we can do is prepare a sanctions regime that makes it incredibly costly, and so companies that choose to violate the sanctions that we have in place ... we will pursue. We will ensure that they are held accountable for the violations that they engage in. It's pretty straightforward."

-- Meghan Gordon,

-- Edited by Richard Rubin,