Crude Inventories Pale, Oil Prices Extend Gains

Market torn between high US oil output and OPEC+ compliance with production cuts

Oil prices edged higher on Wednesday, supported by planned cuts to Saudi exports and a reduced forecast for United States crude output.

"Oil prices were supported by expectations of tightening oil supply in the coming months amid increased unplanned outages", it added.

OPEC sources have said an extension of the supply-cutting pact is the likely scenario.

Overall Opec output fell by 221,000 bpd month-on-month to 30.55 million bpd.

Despite this strong compliance, market indicators followed by OPEC still suggest a glut could appear.

The US Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that crude oil stocks in the United States unexpectedly fell last week, while gasoline stocks fell and distillate stocks increased.

Opec forecasts non-member producers to boost output in 2019 by 2.24 million bpd, 60,000 bpd more than expected previously.

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While it may be just as problematic as the notion of global oversupply that dominated analytical fears until recently, the perception of a tightening market continued to result in gains for crude prices, with USA oil settling a substantial 2.4 percent higher on Wednesday.

Sources said Novak would be there on Sunday, along with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih.

Thamer Ghadhban told reporters that an Opec meeting in Vienna in April would assess member states› compliance with agreed production cuts and whether to extend the curbs until the end of the year.

Total US petroleum product exports averaged a record 5.6 million bpd in 2018.

The underlying bullish view in crude oil remains firm, in the meantime, on the back of the so-called "Saudi put", tight conditions in the U.S. markets (amidst USA net imports in historic low levels and the rising activity in refiners ahead of the summer session), the current OPEC+ agreement to cut oil output and ongoing United States sanctions against Iran and Venezuela crude oil exports.

Brent crude oil futures were at $67.15 per barrel at 0126 GMT, 8 cents below their last close, but still within a dollar of the $68.14 2019-high reached the previous day. Brent touched $67.39 a barrel on Monday, its highest since February 25.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.62 per barrel, up 36 cents, or 0.62 percent, from their last settlement. OPEC's report said oil inventories in developed economies were above the five-year average in January.

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