OPEC squeezes oil output to 4-year low, Russia compliance low

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas Venezuela

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up $1.07, or 1.7 percent, at $63.49 a barrel at 9:55 a.m. EST (14:55 GMT), while U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures were up 91 cents, or 1.7 percent, at $54.01.

The cartel's scale-back was in line with an agreement by Opec and non-Opec members in December to trim production by 1.2 million barrels a day from January 1.

"Oil production is rapidly falling and companies that normally resell Venezuelan crude have not found ways to mitigate the effect of the USA sanctions", Barclays bank said.

Venezuela sanctions have arrived in a market that was already likely to be short of medium and heavy crudes because of USA sanctions on Iran and OPEC's output cuts.

The oil price has risen by 20 percent so far this year, yet most of that increase came in early January, before the imposition of USA sanctions on Venezuela's energy sector.

"Some recent positive developments could support the global economy at its current level, including the recovery in oil prices, possible progress in U.S".

Venezuela accounted for 16 percent of OPEC output and 8 percent of world production in 1970 but those percentages had fallen to just 5 percent and 2 percent respectively by 2017 (https://tmsnrt.rs/2E4Pfb9).

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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.

If refiners are unable to source enough heavy and extra heavy crude, they will buy the next best alternative, in this case medium density crudes, so the impact of sanctions is rippling through the entire oil market.

WTI has also derived some support after the API reported late on Tuesday a almost 1M barrel drop in U.S. crude oil supplies during last week.

Gasoline inventories for the same period rose 746,000 barrels. Distillate inventories decreased by 2.481 million barrels versus an expected draw of 1.090 million barrels.

"Oil markets continue to focus at the macro level on the dual notions of adequate supply and softening demand", Frank Verrastro, senior vice president for the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a U.S. think-tank, said in a note. -China trade and broader economic concerns, and the approach of seasonal refinery maintenance.

Mars, a medium crude grade from the U.S. Gulf, has moved to a rare premium over Louisiana Light Sweet. -China trade deal. That may be in the works, but it could take several months to feel its influence.

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