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U.S. oil prices settle slightly higher

U.S. oil prices settle slightly higher

"Longer-dated (crude) futures. remain in backwardation, driven by confidence in indefatigable USA shale producers", US firm Height Securities said in a note, although it warned that strong demand as well as looming disruptions due to renewed USA sanctions against Iran and falling output in Venezuela could soon start lifting the crude forward curve too.

Goldman Sachs, though, said even with a slowdown in demand and soaring US output, global oil markets would remain tight.

Crude rallied to $80 a barrel in London for the first time since late 2014 amid signals that stockpiles of excess oil will continue shrinking around the world.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 57 cents at $72.06 a barrel, also their highest since November 2014.

Thursday's gains came as European companies pull back from Iran.

In less than two years, new regulations from the International Maritime Organization, created to curb air pollution, are to come into force.

Since then it has fallen sharply, sliding below 30 dollars at the start of 2016, thanks to the combination of a supply glut partly thanks to United States shale oil production, and weakness in some economies lowering demand.

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"Aggregate production - both actual and projected - is growing for the majors", S&P Global Ratings said in a report published on Tuesday. As for Opec, leading members have assured traders they have plenty of crude to make up for any losses from sanctioned Iran, though the cartel showed no signs of ramping up output. The price has been driven by geopolitical tensions of recent months in producing countries like Iran. Brent crude is now above $79.60.

Oil and gas research analyst Jack Allardyce at cantor Fitzgerald Europe said: "There is now a firmer consensus around the potential impact of lost Venezuelan/Iranian exports, and as such, we see little to drive benchmarks much higher in the immediate term".

Since the European Union is unlikely to follow the U.S.in re-imposing sanctions on Iran, the overall impact on the Persian Gulf state's exports will be "far more muted" than in the past, tanker tracker Petro-Logistics said in a note.

Iran's oil production has declined and is expected to continue to do so when USA sanctions are reimposed and Venezuela's production has also reduced dramatically as the country has not invested enough in its industry.

The position holds to the Justice Department's view on the possibility of prosecuting a sitting president. The Energy Information Administration reported a larger than expected draw in gasoline and crude oil, which helped buoy prices. The uptrend remains in place and prices are poised to test higher levels.

"The fact is that crude oil prices have risen by almost 75 percent since June 2017", the IEA's report added. It was trading at $2.797 before the supply data.


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