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Middle East tensions rumbled on in 2018

Oil prices recovered, but old conflicts remained unresolved

The fate of Middle East oil producers in 2018—and producers elsewhere in the world—remained largely in the hands of Saudi Arabia and Russia. Despite rumours of differences in strategy and objectives, the two giants—producing around 40pc of global output—stuck to their guns and maintained production cuts agreed the previous year. It became increasingly clear that the muscle to influence oil markets had passed from Opec to the Saudi-Russian partnership. Iran, once a major energy force to match Saudi Arabia, was forced out of the running by US sanctions which, in November, were extended to the energy sector. Fear of global supply shortages resulting from an anticipated dip in Iranian oil expor



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