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Opinion
Julian Lee

OPEC May Struggle to Cope With New Iran Sanctions

There may not be enough spare capacity to make up for lost Iranian oil exports.

A cloudy future for Iranian oil exports.

A cloudy future for Iranian oil exports.

Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

After more than a year of assessing how effective OPEC and friends have been at keeping a lid on supply, it's fair to ask how much more they can produce. This is really a question about spare production capacity -- and it's an urgent one.

President Donald Trump has to decide by May 12 whether to extend waivers on Iranian sanctions, and all the indications are that he won't. The drop in supply could easily exceed a million barrels a day, if the president decides to impose extra-territorial sanctions on anyone doing business with Iran -- would-be buyers could decide that the safest course is to shun the country's oil.