Oil prices hit $80 per barrel as Hurricane Florence swirls into US

The price of Brent crude oil has reached highs of $80 per barrel for the second time this year as the East coast of the US braces itself for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

More than a million people, as well as businesses, have already begun evacuating North and South Carolina following a national weather warning. While Hurricane Florence is not expected to affect production, evacuating residents have created a short-term spike in demand.

Lower US crude inventories and impending sanctions against Iran have also contributed to the rising price of oil – its highest since May and close to a four-year high.

The Energy Information Administration said US crude oil inventories had dropped by 5.3 million barrels last week, while the potential impact of looming US sanctions over the Iranian oil sector is also being monitored by traders.

“Iran is increasingly becoming the preoccupation of the crude market. The last couple of weeks have seen the expected squeeze on Iranian crude flows taking shape, with overall outflows down markedly,” said consultant JBC Energy.

Elsewhere, OPEC has cut its forecast for oil demand growth in 2019 in its most recent monthly report, citing challenges in emerging countries that could hinder economic growth.