Crude Oil Near USD70 Ahead Of OPEC-Russia Confab

Posted April 20, 2018

Oil began a slide from above $100 - a price that Saudi Arabia endorsed in 2012 - in mid-2014, when growing supply from rival sources such as US shale began to swamp the market.

With Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader, said to be happy with oil rising to $80 or even $100 a barrel, no changes are expected to be made to the supply cut agreement.

At 10:20 a.m. EDT on Thursday WTI Crude was up 0.73 percent at $68.97 and Brent Crude was up 1.10 percent at $74.29.

The price of Brent, the global benchmark for light sweet crude, topped $74 per barrel, the highest since late 2014 on Thursday, as a mix of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, and supply disruptions in Venezuela spurred its rally.

At the gathering in the Saudi city of Jeddah, OPEC and Russian Federation will discuss prolonging their cooperation, including new inventory targets that extend their output cuts beyond this year.

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"We feel we are at the point where further price support is unlikely unless there is an (unexpected OPEC) supply cut", said Georgi Slavov, head of research at brokerage Marex Spectron.

A surprised jump in gasoline demand also helped drive prices higher.

The beginning of summer may herald the end of a boom for the fuel that underpinned crude's rally into a bull market previous year.

The leap in oil combined with fears that sanctions on Russian Federation could hit supplies of other commodities to light a fire under the entire sector.

Opec's ministerial committee tasked with monitoring the group's supply-cutting deal with non-Opec countries, led by Russian Federation, meets in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday."Despite an oil price of over US$70 per barrel and the fact that the oversupply has been eliminated, a phase-out of the production cuts will not be on the agenda", Commerzbank oil analyst Carsten Fritsch said. Distillate inventories were also down, by 3.1 million barrels, after a weekly draw of 1 million barrels in the prior seven-day period.

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"Current oil prices are not justified by underlying oil fundamentals", they said.

The impression is that oil prices are seen as not yet high enough to encourage sufficient oil investment. Global markets for equities, currencies and metals have all been whipsawed by the uncertainty over what President Donald Trump's next geopolitical move would be.

Meanwhile, production continues to decline in Venezuela, where economic crisis has paralyzed the nation's lifeblood oil industry.

The Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) will make a recommendation to OPEC about whether or not the production cut deal should be extended into 2019.

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