Oil rises as Saudi says it is comfortable with higher prices

A pump jack operates at sunset in an oil field in Midland, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 28 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $68.62 per barrel.

OPEC's leader and largest producer, Saudi Arabia, however, has so far shown production increases lower than the ones it initially hinted at in June. Brent crude futures dropped 44 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $77.61 per barrel by 0424 GMT.

Technical analysis from Reuters market analyst Wang Tao showed that United States oil prices have repeatedly failed to overcome a resistance level of $69.85 per barrel, signalling a dissipation of positive outlook.

Official U.S. government data is due to be released on Wednesday.

Ahead of that meeting in Vienna, the producers will meet in Algeria this month to discuss possible scenarios.

Oil prices in the long-term will be $50 a barrel according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who noted that the current $70-80 oil price is driven by sanctions and will be temporary.

The news agency reported that while the kingdom had no desire to push prices higher than $80 a barrel, it may no longer be possible to avoid it because of tightening supplies amid US sanctions against Iran.

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Output from Iran has hit its lowest level since July 2016 as top buyers India and China distance themselves from Tehran due to looming U.S. sanctions on November 5, according to the International Energy Agency.

"It casts doubts on whether Saudi Arabia will increase output to compensate for the loss of Iranian crude once sanctions come into effect", said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Oil futures also drew support from geopolitical risk on Tuesday.

China and the United States are among the world's biggest oil consumers and the ongoing trade war is affecting the demand outlook as the dip in trade has affected the growth in the demand for oil.

Iran's oil exports have been falling in recent months as more buyers, including its second-largest buyer India, cut imports ahead of US sanctions that take effect in November. The move was in retaliation for President Donald Trump's planned levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

China said it had no choice but to retaliate against new US trade measures after Trump imposed 10 percent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

"The brinkmanship between Beijing and Washington has the potential to severely impact the competitiveness of US crude oil and petroleum products in the Chinese market, and it will also deter Chinese investment in the USA energy sector", said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

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