Brent oil hits 2019 high above $65

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Crude Oil Rates Hit 2019 Highs Amid Supply Cuts

Brent crude oil prices slipped away from 2019 highs above $65 per barrel reached earlier on Friday, as economic concerns countered OPEC-led supply cuts and a partial shutdown of Saudi Arabia's biggest offshore oil field.

While most of the supply news has been supportive for Brent crude oil, gains have been limited in WTI futures because of soaring US crude production.

The global oil market will struggle this year to absorb fast-growing crude supply from outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), even with the group's production cuts and US sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Wednesday.

Brent crude futures were up 82 cents, or 1.3%, at $64.43 a barrel at roughly 2:25 p.m. ET, down from a session high of $64.81, the highest intraday level in almost three months.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.07 per barrel, up 48 cents, or 0.9 percent, from their close.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries along with allies led by Russian Federation made voluntary production cuts beginning last month aimed at tightening the market.

The producer group known as OPEC+ has agreed to cut crude output by a joint 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd).

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USA oil output is seen rising to record highs this year. In an interview with the Financial Times published on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that the Saudis would cut production to around 9.8 million bpd in March, some 500,000 bpd below the commitment in the OPEC+ deal that began in January.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note that "Brent should average $70 per barrel in 2019, helped by voluntary (Saudi, Kuwait, UEA) and involuntary (Venezuela, Iran) declines in OPEC supply".

It also said it expected a drop of 2.5 million bpd in OPEC supply in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to a year earlier.

The US oil output, however, continues to counter the measures implemented by OPEC+.

Most analysts expect US output to rise past 12 million bpd soon, and perhaps even hit 13 million bpd by the end of the year.

"The same, however, can't be said for Libya", said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

Further supporting crude prices have been USA sanctions against oil exporters and OPEC-members Iran and Venezuela.

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