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Oil pushed up by deepening OPEC supply cuts, sanctions on Venezuela

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SINGAPORE – Oil prices rose on Wednesday as producer club OPEC said it had cut supply deeply in January and as U.S. sanctions hit Venezuela’s oil exports.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $53.66 per barrel at 0530 GMT, up 56 cents, or 1.1 percent, from their last close.

U.S. prices were also supported by a report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday showing that crude inventories fell by 998,000 barrels in the week to Feb. 8 to 447.2 million, compared with analyst expectations for an increase of 2.7 million barrels.

International Brent crude futures were up 1 percent, or 65 cents, at $63.07 per barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which Saudi Arabia de-facto leads as the world’s top crude oil exporter, said on Tuesday that it had cut its output by almost 800,000 bpd in January to 30.81 million bpd.

Supply issues in OPEC-member Venezuela are also bolstering oil prices as the South American country suffers a political and economic crisis, with Washington introducing petroleum export sanctions against state-owned energy firm PDVSA.

Despite the political rifts between Venezuela and the United States, U.S. refiners have in the past been some of the biggest buyers of Venezuelan crude.

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