Oil prices rise on OPEC output cuts, as US sanctions bite

Crude Oil

OPEC cuts & US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela boosting global crude prices

Optimism that a trade deal could be reached between the United States and China was boosted when U.S. President Donald Trump said talks were going "very well".

With OPEC engaged in supply management and the Middle East entangled in political conflicts while production outside the group surges, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said OPEC's global market share would fall as its outright output drops to 29 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2024 from 31.9 million bpd in 2018.

Previous pacts by OPEC and its partners including Russian Federation, often called OPEC+, to cut back production have been marked by initial low compliance rates by certain countries.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) said it tightened its crude taps to cut nearly 800,000 barrels a day from its oil exports in January after vowing to drain excess oil from the oversupplied market.

The rapid growth in U.S. production, led by shale oil output, has led to an unwelcome build-up in inventories of crude and refined products while refining margins for the gasoline it yields have collapsed around the world.

Oil prices inched up on Thursday, buoyed by hopes that potential progress in the latest Sino-U.S. tariff talks would improve the global economic outlook.

"In terms of crude oil quantity, markets may be able to adjust after initial logistical dislocations (from Venezuela sanctions)", the Paris-based IEA said.

At least 20 Guard personnel killed in Iran bombing
Also, Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the attack and said the victims will soon be avenged. Recent militant assaults inside Iran have sparked retaliatory ballistic missile strikes in Iraq and Syria .

U.S. oil supplies dropped by almost 1M barrels last week, API reported.

The IEA raised its estimate of growth in crude supply from outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to 1.8 million bpd in 2019, from 1.6 million bpd previously.

The U.S. Treasury's guidance, which appears deliberately unclear, has left many third-country buyers uncertain about whether they can do business with PDVSA without also falling foul of sanctions.

Climbing U.S. oil stockpiles weighed on prices.

He added that markets were amply supplied due to "adequate global oil inventories, the prospect of weakened demand tied both to US-China trade and broader economic concerns, the approach of seasonal refinery maintenance - when crude oil demand declines - and an influx of new supply from the United States and elsewhere".

In effect, sanctions have shifted the balance of global oil production in the direction of lighter crudes, at the same time that the economy and forthcoming regulations are pushing refinery demand towards heavier grades.

John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst.

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