Oil Prices Rally to 4-Month High

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

In its monthly report released on Thursday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cut the forecast for demand for its crude this year and predicted strong growth in non-OPEC supply.

According to Reuters, now the Iraqi state oil marketing company is also emboldened to trade the Iraqi crude on its own as the market for sour and heavy crude grades is tightening amid OPEC's cuts and the USA sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

An OPEC source told Reuters on Tuesday OPEC would stick to its agreement to tighten crude supplies regardless of Trump's recent tweet. USA crude oil demand in 2019 is expected to rise by 360,000 barrels to 20.81 million barrels per day, a former Energy Information Administration (EIA) for an increase of 350,000 barrels per day.

EIA's data also showed that on the exports side, USA crude oil exports increased while domestic production rose as well.

The EIA said Tuesday in its Short-Term Energy Outlook report for March that it now expects crude oil production in the U.S.to average 12.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019 and 13 million bpd in 2020.

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"With OPEC's cuts in full-swing. persistent supply issues and a deteriorating picture on Venezuela, oil is looking well supported", said Jasper Lawler, head of research at futures brokerage London Capital Group. After averaging a record high of 10.1 million bpd in 2005, crude oil imports fell by 2.8 million bpd to an average of 7.3 million bpd in 2014.

Iraq exported on average around 3.6 million bpd in January-February, and 3.7 million in December.

Product inventories also declined, with those gasoline down by 4.6m barrels, together with a 1.2m barrel drop in those of propane/propylene.

Seperately, oil prices nudged higher on Thursday to sit just off a four-month high reached in the previous session as investors focused on global production cuts and supply disruptions in Venezuela. Brent touched $67.76 a barrel on Wednesday, its highest since November 16. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.17 per barrel, up 30 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last settlement.

Brent crude oil futures hit a 2019-peak of $68.14 per barrel on Thursday before easing modestly to $67.05 by 0840 GMT, up 50 cents or 0.74 percent from Wednesday's close.

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