Oil rises as concern heats up over Iran sanctions, Venezuelan output

The rupee has shed about 1% this week and is Asia’s worst performing currency so far this year

Crude oil futures were slightly higher Thursday despite an unexpected rise in US inventories. A slight suggestion that President Trump might accept a revised deal between the six Western powers who signed the original nuclear deal with Iran on Tuesday did halt the price rise, but it was temporary. Despite putting a proposal forward for an enhanced Iran nuclear deal, French President Macron said he expected President Trump to pull out of the deal.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 43,000 barrels per day.

The Trump administration has until May 12 to decide whether it will extend the sanctions waiver linked to Iran's nuclear deal, which would likely result in a reduction of its oil exports.

Venezuela's crude production has fallen from nearly 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2016 to around 1.5 million bpd due to political and economic turmoil.

Soaring U.S. output has made WTI crude around $6 per barrel cheaper than Brent and drawn exports to record highs over 2 million bpd.

The effect of EIA's latest inventory report on oil prices would be interesting to watch; API's figures seemed to remind market players that not all fundamentals are bullish for oil, with USA oil production continuing to be the main headwind for OPEC's plans to push up prices higher.

Yet, underlying sentiment in the oil market remained positive amid ongoing investor expectations that OPEC-led supply cuts would continue to rid the market of excess supplies.

The EIA reported that US crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 16.6 million barrels per day during the week ending April 20, 2018, 328,000 barrels per day less than the previous week's average.

Overall U.S. crude production continued to grow, rising last week to 10.59 million bpd - though the weekly figures are less reliable than monthly data that, as of February, still had the United States producing a shade under 10 million bpd.

"The builds in crude oil and gasoline inventories are obviously negative, but soaring crude oil and gasoline exports cut against those data points", said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital LLC in NY.

Said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader, "The market does look a little toppish".

Only Russia now produces more, at around 11 million bpd.



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