Oil rises to March high on Middle East tensions, Venezuela concerns

BP_Alexander

Crude oil price on Tuesday hit high for the month of March, finding support from concerns over tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and about Venezuela crude production.

Crude output remained under the nation's assigned quota, but the Kingdom increased diesel and gasoline and other fuel shipments by 27 percent to 1.912 million barrels per day in January, the Joint Organizations Data Initiative in Riyadh said.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil futures for April delivery had risen 5 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $61.24 a barrel, after settling up 23 cents on Thursday.

The International Energy Agency said last week Venezuela was "vulnerable to an accelerated decline" and such a disruption could tip global markets into deficit.

However, increased output in the United States, Canada and Brazil has capped oil price gains.

The Energy Information Administration will issue its weekly update on USA petroleum supplies today.

The possibility that the USA could renew sanctions on Iran would hamper output from the country.

Saudi Arabia called the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers a "flawed agreement" on Monday, on the eve of a meeting between the Saudi crown prince and U.S. President Donald Trump.

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Investors will also be watching for news stemming from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to the USA this week.

The premium of Brent crude to WTI rose above $4 a barrel on Tuesday, its widest in a month.

Crude oil prices were very volatile within a range, as concerns about rising supply from the USA and elsewhere threatened to undermine efforts by OPEC and other producers to tighten the market.

The market narrative consuming crude oil markets now is the interplay between supply cuts by OPEC and its allies and rising USA shale output, with a side helping of Chinese imports driving demand.

Also, News of Libya said loadings of crude oil at a key port had been suspended, offsetting an earlier dent to the price caused by evidence of the inexorable growth in USA oil output supported prices.

India is also a market where there is virtually no direct influence being exerted by USA shale oil as the South Asian nation hardly imports any crude from the United States.

The region's victor in exporting to India was Iraq, which increased 12.2 percent to 885,900 bpd, most likely as a result of Baghdad's willingness to offer deeper discounts on its heavier grades of crude compared to similar grades from other exporters. Many analysts expect global oil markets to flip from slight undersupply in 2017 and early this year into oversupply later in 2018.

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