Oil falls as US inventories weigh on supply outlook

Crude Oil

Oil falls as US inventories weigh on supply outlook

US sanctions against Venezuela's oil industry are expected to freeze sales proceeds of Venezuelan crude exports to the United States.

Crude futures fell earlier after an industry report suggested a larger rise in crude inventories, while concerns about the impact on global supplies of USA sanctions on Venezuela faded. The existing tariff schedule is likely to remain in place, however, news reports said.

Oil prices mostly held earlier losses on Wednesday after weekly US government data showed an increase in crude stockpiles.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures are trading lower on Thursday, but inside the previous day's range.

John Kilduff, an energy hedge fund manager in NY who's familiar with Russia's oil industry, said earlier this week that while Moscow had committed to production cuts with OPEC to boost crude prices, it was unlikely to get any deeper into the cartel's game for fear of jeopardizing its own oil market share in the long run.

Meanwhile, average weekly USA crude oil production remained at the record 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd) it reached in late 2018.

"We've been turning the heat up on the regime", Mnuchin said Wednesday, touting the effectiveness of fresh sanctions that President Donald Trump's administration imposed January 28.

Oil fell about 2 percent on Thursday as the market was weighed down by concerns that global demand growth would lag in the coming year. USA -imposed trade tariffs would be expanded in China by March unless trade talks advance.

The move ratcheted up pressure on Maduro to cede power to National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, who the USA and European allies have recognized as Venezuela's rightful president. -China talks to end a trade spat between the world's top two economies.

Higher American output is threatening to offset cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies. Oil prices fell on Tuesday after a survey showed euro zone business expansion almost stalled in January. Output from OPEC's 14 current members fell by 930,000 barrels a day to 31.02 million, according to a Bloomberg survey. Production last month declined to 11.38 million barrels per day (bpd), but that was only down by 35,000 bpd from its October 2018 level that is the baseline for the pact.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead a delegation to Beijing next week to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping later this month.

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