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Oil prices highest for five months, Brent crude hits $70 a barrel on fourth day rise

Brent crude recorded multi-month highs today, climbing for the fourth day in a row and rising as high as $69.92 per barrel, its highest price since November 2018. As of just after 10am BST, the price of brent crude was at $69.78 per barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose to $62.79 per barrel, also its highest level since November 2018. The price of oil was boosted amid news of supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting (OPEC) countries sinking to a four-year low in March, according to a Reuters survey.

Oil prices have been supported for much of 2019 by the OPEC and non-affiliated allies like Russia, who have pledged to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day of supply this year.

Oil production from Russia fell to 11.3 million barrels per day last month, but missed the country’s target under the deal.

BNP Paribas said in a note, reducing an earlier forecast for this year by 200,000 bpd: “We assume that OPEC crude oil production will average 30.1 million bpd in 2019… down from 31.9 million bpd in 2018.”

New of oil supply tumbling comes as three of eight countries granted waivers by the United States to import oil from Iran have cut the imports to zero, a US official said.

The identity of the three countries was not revealed by the source.

The US is also trying to pressure Venezuela’s oil industry and those who support it with economic sanctions.

US Vice President Mike Pence this week confirmed Washington would continue to target Venezuela, citing world oil prices as low enough to allow for the measures.

Venezuela’s state-run energy company, PDVSA, kept oil exports near 1 million barrels per day in March despite US sanctions and power outages that crippled its main export terminal, according to PDVSA document.

Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at Cityindex said in a note: “With output falling for a fourth month thanks to continued OPEC production cuts and sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, oil prices are well supported.

“On the demand side, easing economic slowdown fears are also offering support.”

Oil prices remained high today despite a report from the American Petroleum Institute revealed how US crude inventories jumped by by 3 million barrels last week.

For the previous week, API reported an increase of 1.93 million barrels of crude oil inventories.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirmed a build up and reported a rise of 2.8 million barrels of crude oil inventories for the week.

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