Total: $100 Oil Price Likely

Total: $100 Oil Price LikelyTotal: $100 Oil Price Likely

The potential loss of 1 million barrels of Iranian crude from the world market and the ongoing decline of Venezuela's oil sector could push oil prices beyond $100 per barrel, Patrick Pouyanne, the chairman and CEO of French oil major Total, said on Thursday.

"I would not be surprised to see $100 per barrel in the coming months," Pouyanne said during an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), one of the world's biggest commodity exchanges, traded Thursday July Brent as high as $80.18 per barrel, the first time prompt Brent has been above $80 per barrel since November 2014.

Crude futures have backed off from intraday highs during early US trading hours, but remain higher day on day.

ICE July Brent was 63 cents higher at $79.91 per barrel. NYMEX June crude was 41 cents higher at $71.90 per barrel. Brent prices have not been above $100 per barrel since September 2014.

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, the US Energy Information Administration forecasts Brent to average $70.68 per barrel this year and $65.98 per barrel in 2019.

Pouyanne said geopolitics—particularly President Donald Trump's decision last week to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal and the severe decline in Venezuelan oil output—are driving prices higher.

But, he added, he does not believe the market is near balance and, largely due to pipeline bottlenecks in the US, not enough oil is coming onto the market.

Venezuela oil production fell to 1.42 million barrels per barrel in April, down 50,000 bpd from March and down 560,000 bpd from a year earlier, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

In addition, as much as 1 million barrels of Iranian crude could be affected, as US sanctions on Iran are set to resume.

Total said on Wednesday it had halted plans to help develop Iran's giant South Pars Gas Field as it seeks to clarify whether the investment can avoid falling foul of returning US sanctions on Tehran.

Pouyanne said on Thursday that it was "impossible" to do business with Iran without a waiver from US sanctions since Total cannot risk losing access to the US banking system.

"This is the only way to protect us from a unilateral decision," he said.

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