U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil settled sharply higher as investors continued to position themselves ahead of a key meeting of OPEC producers that may decide to increase global output.
Oil prices have spiked by as much as 20% this year, in part because OPEC has produced even less than was foreseen under the 2016 agreement, which was supposed to reduce supply by 1.8 million barrels per day.
De-facto OPEC leader and top crude exporter Saudi Arabia as well as Russian Federation which is not a member of the cartel but the world's biggest oil producer, are pushing for looser supply controls. Iran faces constraints on its oil exports after Trump reimposed sanctions on May 8.
Ecuador said a compromise output increase could be agreed at around 0.6 million bpd but predicted a tough meeting on Friday because Iran wanted to discuss us sanctions.
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Prices of Brent Crude were down to $73.34 on Thursday, after highs earlier this month of around $80, while U.S. light crude CLc1 dropped $1 to $64.71.
"OPEC is listening to consumers", Bob Dudley, the chief executive of BP Plc, said on the sidelines of the OPEC conference in Vienna.
UAE Energy Minister Suhail Mohammed al-Mazrouei added: "I am very optimistic".
But in practice it would mean a much smaller boost of less than a 10th of that amount, effectively from Saudi Arabia.
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"Essner is betting that the Vienna meeting will yield an agreement to boost production by 500,000 to 800,000 barrels a day, far below the 1.5 million barrel figure floated recently by Russia's oil minister, Alexander Novak".
So far there is no indication that Iran and the other members would agree to such a reallocation, although with officials holding extensive talks in the run-up to Friday's Opec meeting, further compromise could be made. Their proposal would share out a quota increase of 1 million barrels a day between all members of the group. "We are trying to narrow the gap between the two and we hope that this afternoon reach some sort of good compromise".
A 25 percent tariff on United States crude oil imports, as threatened by China in retaliation for duties Washington has announced but not yet implemented against Chinese products, would make American crude uncompetitive in China versus other supplies.
Trump's involvement in pressing for OPEC to act - which in addition to his tweets include a behind-the-scenes request for a 1 million-barrel-a-day supply hike - could make it hard for Tehran to accept a compromise. "One thing you can be assured of is: we will be responsive, we will release supplies to make sure there's no shortage". Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
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