OPEC, Analysts See Slowing Demand and Cooling U.S. Production Ahead


Oil prices climb as Iran sanctions loom

Oil prices eased on Wednesday, having neared its highest level this year after a drop in US crude inventories and the prospect of the loss of Iranian supply added to concerns over the delicate balance between consumption and production.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $69.93 per barrel at 0646 GMT, up 68 cents, or 1 per cent, from their last settlement. In New York last night the price was $78.43, up 1 per cent so far this month.

In recent months, prices have wavered comfortably between the $70 and $80 per barrel on the Brent crude futures contract. OPEC said it expects non-OPEC production to expand by 2.15 million barrels a day next year, 20,000 more than forecast last month.

The International Energy Agency said Thursday that the global oil supply reached 100 million barrels a day for the first time ever.

US light crude pushed over $70 on Wednesday due to falling USA crude inventories and production levels.

Gasoline stocks rose 1.3 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, climbed by 6.2 million barrels, the EIA data showed.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the September edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, increasing its forecast for 2018 ethanol production, but lowering its estimate for 2019 production.

"We are dealing with two issues separately and our stand has been communicated to the United States", added the official on being questioned to whether higher American oil imports could mean replacing Iranian crude.

The Paris-based energy agency said falling output in Iran and Venezuela could drive up prices if it is not offset by more production elsewhere.

"While Iranian exports have fallen by almost 500,000 barrels per day since May, shipments from Iraq and Saudi Arabia have risen by 200,000 barrels per day and 60,000 barrels per day respectively", the IEA added.

Despite fear of disruptions to global oil supplies and curbs on production, OPEC sees global oil supplies as sufficient - it's demand people should be worrying about. Meanwhile, France and South Korea are shunning Iranian Crude Oil, forcing the Islamic Republic to effectively remove some Crude Oil from global markets.

"But we are clear that these are commercial decisions-dependent on how competitively oil is priced and on the requirements of our refineries", said the official.

Oil traders were also watching the progress of category 4 Hurricane Florence which is expected to make landfall by Friday.

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