Friday, 19 April, 2019

Oil Prices Go Up

The market outlook remains unclear and much depends on how far Washington tightens the screw on Iran and Venezuela before Opec’s June meeting. ─ Reuters  File OPEC projects to tighter oil market in 2019
Ginger Lawrence | 14 April, 2019, 23:12

International Brent crude oil futures were at $71.01 per barrel at 0042 GMT, up 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.

Oil prices rose one per cent on Friday as involuntary supply cuts from Venezuela and Iran plus conflict in Libya supported perceptions of a tightening crude market, while upbeat Chinese economic data eased concerns about waning crude demand.

Oil prices doubled on three occasions thanks to the cuts led by OPEC countries, United States sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and the renewal of fighting in Libya.

Production by OPEC countries in March was 2.2 million barrels per day (b/d) lower than in November and now there is uncertainty concerning Libya, said a report released by the International Energy Agency on Thursday.

"Oil prices at $70/bbl for Brent are less comfortable for consumers than they were at the start of the year", the reports says.

Just last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated in its weekly supply-demand report that production had reached a new high of 12.2 million barrels per day. Demand for OPEC crude in 2018 averaged 31.35 million bpd.

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"Although it is still early days, the major centers of oil demand growth are performing strongly; in China, the economy seems to be reacting to the government's stimulus measures", it said, also reporting strong demand in India.

The prospective initiative from OPEC was reportedly encouraged by the recent rally in prices and because extending its production cuts with Russian Federation and other allies could over-tighten the market (the cartel agreed with allies to withhold 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude since the start of 2019, and its output fell 550,000 bpd in March to 30.1 million bpd).

OPEC and its allies meet in June to decide whether to continue withholding supply. Moreover, news out that Russian Federation has shied away from committing to extend oil production cuts along with OPEC could also weigh adversely on crude prices if this risk materializes.

At the last OPEC meeting in Vienna, the group's members agreed to slash output by 812,000 bpd, with Russian Federation and nine other non-OPEC allies committing to a cut of 383,000 bpd for the first six months of 2019. Though the rig count itself is a lagging indicator, with additional production showing up with a five-to-six-week latency after new drilling is reported, it is an important gauge to market participants trying to determine if USA output is surging again.

Two days ago, OPEC reported Venezuela's March output sank to 732,000 bpd, citing independent sources, while figures provided by the country put production at 960,000 bpd.