Oil hits 2019 high as supply squeeze looms

Oil rises for fourth day shrugs off inventory build

June Brent crude oil is at $69.05, up $0.04 or +0.06%.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $60.44 per barrel, up 1.14 cents, and on track for a rise of more than 33% over the January-March period.

Brent crude rose 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $69.16 a barrel by 0636 GMT, having earlier touched $69.50, the highest since mid-November.

USA officials are keen to ensure see that Malaysia, Singapore and others are fully aware of illicit Iranian oil shipments and the tactics Iran uses to evade sanctions, Mandelker said.

Additionally, Venezuela's Jose crude export terminal has halted operations due to the lack of electricity supply, two sources with knowledge of the situation said.

"The latest driver appears to be the idea that tightened supplies are going to create a stronger fundamental picture", said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy.

However, Venezuela stabilized exports in March after shipments fell about 40 percent in February from January.

In fact, the up move in WTI remains propped up by the agreement to curb oil production clinched between OPEC producers and Russian Federation in late 2018 and that kicked in in January.

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Price were also underpinned by a Reuters survey showing OPEC oil supply sank to a four-year low in March, and positive data from the world's biggest economies, the United States and China.

Russia, the biggest non-OPEC producer in the so-called OPEC+ group, has yet to reach its production-cutting target. US stockpiles probably declined by 900,000 barrels last week, according to another Bloomberg survey before government figures are published on Wednesday. In addition, speculators increased their long exposure in oil during the week ended on March 26, taking net longs to the highest level since late October 2018.

USA sanctions on OPEC members Iran and Venezuela are also buoying prices.

A monthly Reuters survey of economists and analysts forecast Brent would average US$67.12 a barrel in 2019, about 1% higher than the previous poll's US$66.44.

Later in the NA session, the American Petroleum Institute (API) will publish its weekly report on United States crude oil supplies ahead of the EIA report due tomorrow and Baker Hughes' oil rig count on Friday. USA government data will be released on Wednesday.

USA energy companies last week reduced the number of oil rigs operating to the lowest level in almost a year, cutting the most rigs during one quarter in three years, energy services firm Baker Hughes said.

"The supply cuts have been there for a while but Venezuela is not improving", said Olivier Jakob, analyst at Petromatrix.

Oil prices rose on Monday, adding to gains in the first quarter when the major benchmarks posted their biggest increases in almost a decade, as concerns about supplies outweigh fears of a slowing global economy.

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