Venezuela sanctions leave oil market short of heavy crude

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

Opec tightens its taps as global oil demand stalls

In a monthly report, OPEC said its oil output fell nearly 800,000 barrels per day in January to 30.81 million bpd.

Despite the OPEC cuts and crisis in Venezuela, analysts said global oil markets remain well supplied.

Brent crude futures rose 88 cents to $63.30 a barrel by 0950 GMT, while USA crude oil futures gained 66 cents to trade at $53.76 a barrel. Since January 1, an OPEC-led group has been cutting at least 1.2 million barrels per day from production in an effort to trim the global supply and stabilize prices.

In the meantime, the political rift between Venezuela and the United States continues with the US sanctions against the South American nation giving prices a slight boost.

U.S. restrictions on Venezuela's energy sector have crippled exports and threaten to remove some 330,000 bpd in supply from the market this year, according to Goldman Sachs.

World oil demand will grow more slowly this year, OPEC said, and non-OPEC production will rise more rapidly than expected.

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Venezuela accounted for 16 percent of OPEC output and 8 percent of world production in 1970 but those percentages had fallen to just 5 percent and 2 percent respectively by 2017 (https://tmsnrt.rs/2E4Pfb9).

Despite the political rifts between Venezuela and the United States, US refiners have in the past been some of the biggest buyers of Venezuelan crude.

The oil price has risen by 20 percent so far this year, yet most of that increase materialised in early January, before the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's energy sector. "This is because, in terms of crude oil quantity, markets may be able to adjust after initial logistical dislocations", the group added.

WTI has also derived some support after the API reported late on Tuesday a almost 1M barrel drop in USA crude oil supplies during last week. Analysts were looking for a build of about 2.300 million barrels.

Prices of the American reference for the sweet light crude oil are prolonging the recovery on Wednesday, trading at shouting distance from the $54.00 mark per barrel ahead of the EIA report.

"Oil prices have not increased alarmingly because the market is still working off the surpluses built up in the second half of 2018, when global supply is estimated to have exceeded demand by 1.3 mbd", said the IEA. -China trade and broader economic concerns, and the approach of seasonal refinery maintenance. -China trade deal. That may be in the works, but it could take several months to feel its influence.

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