Saudi crude output to fall to 9.8 million bpd in March

Crude Oil

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

Soaring output is putting the US on course to become a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products next year.

Looking at specific grades of crude shows that a grade such as Iraq's Basra Heavy has been increasing in price relative to a light crude such as Nigeria's Bonny Light.

"In quantity terms, in 2019, the US alone will grow its crude oil production by more than Venezuela's current output". OPEC members (excluding Iran, Venezuela and Libya) are responsible for two thirds of production cut. OPEC countries demonstrated an unequal level of oil production cuts as of the end of January and reduction rates need to be expedited, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said on Tuesday in a statement released by the Secretariat's press service.

However, the granting of the waivers contributed to a sharp reversal in crude prices, with Brent dropping to a 14-month low by late November.

Saudi Aramco is the world's biggest oil company, producing ten million barrels of oil a day and managing 260 billion barrels in reserves.

Also pressuring oil prices were sanctions that U.S. President Donald Trump implemented on Venezuela's oil exports in recent weeks, which has reduced supply from the global market.

US crude inventory has been hovering between 430 and 450 million barrels since early December - and remains around 6% above the five year average for this time of year. In response to Maduro's call for aid, an OPEC spokesman familiar with the subject matter had been quoted saying that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), declined to make any formal statement and said that they were more concerned about their policies, not politics.

"So far, there are no signs that other producers, e.g".

Production has been hampered by corruption, political interference and lack of foreign investment and technology to maintain existing fields and develop new ones.

The IEA noted that new U.S. sanctions announced in January on Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA have not so far caused market jitters.

Total OPEC production stood at just over 30.8 million bpd in January, down from 31.6 million bpd in December, according to independent sources cited by the group in its monthly report.

Oil prices have struggled to rise amidst an oversupplied market.

Sanctions announced last month prohibit US corporations and persons from financial transactions with state-owned oil company PDVSA.

Venezuela has tried to find alternative customers, especially in Asia, but under U.S. pressure many buyers there are also shying away from dealing with PDVSA. The price has largely plateaued since then, in spite of the subsequent imposition of USA sanctions.

But while Venezuela's crude now accounts for a very limited share of the global oil market, it plays a much more important role in the niche market for heavy crude.

With the actual loss of Venezuelan and some Middle Eastern crude, and the potential loss of Iranian barrels, the dilemma for Asian refiners becomes more acute.

The world's largest oil producers slashed their crude production last month as global economic jitters drag on oil demand forecasts.

John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst.

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