Oil hits $70 as OPEC minister hints of further cuts

Brent Crude

Daily March Brent Crude

He also said OPEC isn't concerned about a potential supply disruption shock due to crude output declines in Venezuela and political unrest in Iran.

The decision to cut its oil supply, which was originally agreed in November 2016, was in response to a fall in global demand following a huge boom in U.S. shale production and OPEC's subsequent decision to flood the market in mid-2014. "We need to give the market time", Mazroui, who holds the OPEC presidency, added. "There is no need to rush and put assumptions (about) what are we going to do", Mazroui told an industry conference.

Brent crude futures, used in the pricing of more than half the world's oil, rose as much as 1.2 percent to the highest since December 4, 2014.

On the news, Brent Crude briefly broke the $70 a barrel mark before returning to its current price of $69.2 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate rose 1.5% to $64.5 a barrel before falling back to $63.5 in early morning trading.

Although analysts and traders have been warning of the risks of a downward price correction since the start of the year, they point out that overall market conditions remain strong, largely due to ongoing production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian Federation.

Unlike, OPEC and its allies, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts oil prices to average $55/bbl in 2018as 'crude oil production from the United States is expected to increase more than in any other country.' However, narrowing U.S. inventories paired with the recent slowdown in field production may keep oil prices afloat especially as the bullish momentum appears to be gathering pace.

USA commercial crude stocks fell by nearly 5 million barrels in the week to January 5, to 419.5 million barrels.

But Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, warned on Friday that while oil prices at Dollars 65 to USD 70 per barrel are good for oil producers now, there is a risk that such a level would encourage more oversupply from US shale drillers.

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