Oil hovers near 2019 highs from Opec cuts and U.S. sanctions

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U.S. Output: Oil prices had come under some pressure Thursday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. oil production had risen by 100,000 barrels a day last week to a record 12 million barrels a day.

Much of that growing output is coming from US shale fields, where drillers use advanced methods to squeeze crude oil and natural gas from rock formations.

Hekmati said that, however, "economic data continues to disappoint, and USA oil production continues to surge higher".

Citing a goal to reduce the country's dependence on imported crude by 10 percent by 2022, Narendra Modi, prime minister for India, on Thursday endorsed revamped rules that will give producers pricing and marketing freedom that is now non-existent.

Trade optimism prevails as U.S.

Despite the slowdown in economic growth that emerged in late 2018, oil prices have been driven up this year by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

Oil prices were firm on Friday, supported by OPEC's ongoing supply cuts and hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon end their trade dispute. "Yesterday, the market was rather dead, volume was low and U.S. data on crude and products was mixed, so the market didn't really react", Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix consultancy said.

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Gains dropped because the United States reported its crude output hit a record 12 million barrels per day (bpd), and its exports increased.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose by 3.7 million barrels to 454.5 million barrels in the week ended Feb 15, the EIA said.

The agency also said that USA crude stockpiles had built for a fifth straight week, climbing by 3.7 million barrels last week to 455 million barrels.

At 454.5 million barrels, USA crude oil inventories were about 6 percent above the five-year average for this time of the year. America is the only country to ever reach 12 million bpd of production. OPEC and 10 allied producers outside the cartel, led by Russian Federation, agreed in late December to collectively hold back output by 1.2 million barrels day for the first half of 2019.

The U.S. will start consistently exporting more crude oil and petroleum products than it imports at the end of next year, EIA recently forecast.

Goldman Sachs said in a note that it expects Opec output to average 31.1-million bpd in 2019, down from 31.9-million bpd.

"Given the supply and demand picture, Goldman said it expected an average Brent price of $60-$65 per barrel in 2019 and 2020".

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