Oil Edges Up As Market Eyes Tighter Supply

Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Maduro

Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Maduro

USA government data on Wednesday showed that domestic crude inventories rose less than expected last week even as refineries hiked output.

Meanwhile, imports are set to drop further as the U.S. slapped sanctions on Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

However, Russian oil output in January missed the target for the output cuts, Energy Ministry data showed on Saturday.

"You have the sanctions on Venezuela, on top of the reduced supply from Saudi Arabia", Olivier Jakob, oil analyst at Petromatrix, said as cited by Reuters. "There's no sign of overhang in the crude oil markets".

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures tumbled on Tuesday ahead of the release of the American Petroleum Institute's weekly inventories report later in the session.

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Guaido's team is planning for a post-Maduro government with an emergency scheme to supply fuel domestically, given widespread shortages across Venezuela, Goicoechea said.

Global benchmark Brent crude dropped almost 1% to $61.39 a barrel while WTI futures were down more than 1% at $53.12 a barrel. USA crude was down 48 cents at $53.18.

“The 2019 demand outlook for oil is not great, while the prospects of increased shale supply and competition elsewhere could drive prices further lower, ” he said.

Guaidó also plans to drop the requirement that PDVSA hold a majority stake in all joint projects, as the leader looks to boost oil production as soon as possible, Guaidó's envoy to the U.S., Carlos Vecchio, said earlier this week.

"While Venezuela's output reportedly rose last month, fresh United States sanctions on the country could see 0.5 to 1 percent of global supply curtailed", said Vivek Dhar, commodities analyst for Commonwealth Bank of Australia in a note on Monday.

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OPEC and 10 partner producers outside the cartel agreed late past year to hold back crude output by 1.2 million barrels a day for the first half of 2019, in an effort to soak up a global supply glut and rebalance the market.

Still, some observers have pointed out that the weakened state of its oil industry may have only a limited effect on the wider global crude market.

Venezuela, like fellow OPEC members Iran and Libya, was exempt from production curbs under the deal on expectations that its output faced involuntary downward pressure in 2019.

Meanwhile, hopes for thawing China-US relations have also helped ease concerns over slowing economic growth.

Investors will be looking for clues in President Trump's State of the Union speech on a number of matters, but crude oil traders will be listening for positive comments about U.S.

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