Oil prices continue to surge

Oil eases below four-year highs U.S. inventory rise expected

Prices had tumbled in earlier trading after the Energy Information Administration reported an eight-million-barrel rise in United States stockpiles last week. This is predicted to show that weekly crude inventories rose by 1,985,000 barrels after the previous week's 1,852,000 increase.

More fundamentally, oil markets have been pushed up by looming USA sanctions against Iran's oil industry, which at its most recent peak this year supplied nearly 3 percent of the world's nearly 100 million barrels of daily consumption.

According to reports, Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia, after a series of private meetings last month, struck a deal, to raise oil production from September through December to cool rising prices and to help offset loss of Iranian oil to some extent.

On Thursday, Brent fell by $1.34 a barrel or 1.6 percent.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 43 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $74.76 a barrel.

The current uncertainties in the oil market, especially about how many Iranian barrels will be lost to USA sanctions, will persist for at least another month until the market gets some clarity on the Iran sanctions, Novak noted. After the JCPOA and the European Union agreed to relieve sanctions imposed on Iran on the condition that the country curb its nuclear capacity in July 2015, Iran's crude exports saw a slight increase in 2016, reaching 1.9 million bpd and jumped to 2.1 million bpd in 2017, according to data compiled from OPEC.

The Trump administration has looked to Middle Eastern producers to pick up the slack left by its policy, with Saudi Arabia agreeing earlier this year to increase its oil output by a "measurable" amount and OPEC agreeing to reduce compliance with coordinated supply constraints.

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The investment bank said there was enough oil to meet demand, but "global spare capacity is dwindling to the lowest level that we can document".

Front-month futures have also hit 9,800 yen per barrel, the same as in October 2007, on their way to a peak of 15,300 yen in July 2008.

While the rising trend continued in early 2018, reaching as high as 2.8 million bpd in April, Iran's oil sales overseas have seen considerable decreases, falling 2.01 million bpd and 1.31 million bpd by September 13 this year, according to Bloomberg data. Opec and non-members agreed in June to ease production limits, in order to take some pressure off prices.

Oil has been rallying as shrinking output from Venezuela to Iran stoked worldwide concern about a supply crunch. Saudi Arabia is now pumping about 10.7 million barrels per day (bpd.) and can add a further 1.3 million "if the market needs that", he said.

"The US is doing all it can to prevent us from producing and supplying oil to the market, but Iran is producing its crude oil with force", he said.

Asked about surging oil prices, Falih said the current price "was not based on fiscal flows of supply and demand".

"The Saudis won't flood the market and they don't want to see it oversupplied", said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group AG.

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