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US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down 16 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $73.98 per barrel.

USA crude inventories fell by 4.5 million barrels in the week to June 29 to 416.9 million barrels, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday.

"An unexpected build in the USA commercial crude inventory has prompted profit-taking", said Abhishek Kumar, Senior Energy Analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

However, the Chinese government has not yet specified a date on which it may introduce duties on imports of US crude.

Top exporter Saudi Arabia told OPEC it raised oil output by nearly 500,000 barrels per day last month, OPEC sources said, a sign Riyadh wants to make up for shortages elsewhere and dampen prices.

"The OPEC monopoly must remember that gas prices are up and they are doing little to help..." If anything, they are driving prices higher as the USA defends many of their members for very little $'s.

"This must be a two way street", he wrote, adding in block capitals, "REDUCE PRICING NOW!"

Oil output cuts by OPEC and allies, including Russian Federation, since January 2017 have reduced a glut of crude.

"People are firming up their numbers of how much Iranian oil exports will be lost, and how much Opec will increase".

Opec members agreed with Russian Federation and other oil-producing allies last month to raise output, despite Iran storming out of negotiations, with Saudi Arabia pledging a "measurable" supply boost but giving no specific numbers.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday said that it would be reducing prices of its Arab Light grade crude exports.

NAB said its oil price forecasts "point to Brent spending the next few months largely in the mid-to-high $70s (per barrel) range, although meaningful OPEC-Russia output increases could push prices lower later in the year and higher U.S. shale production should impose an upside limit on WTI".

Iran's oil minister says there has been no significant change in the country's oil production and export despite United States pressures.

"Roughly 30 percent of all seaborne oil is transported through this strait every day", Commerzbank said in a note.

A blockade of the strait, through which roughly 30 per cent of all seaborne oil travels, would have "dramatic consequences for global oil supply and an impact on prices that is nearly impossible to put into figures", Commerzbank said in a note.

The U.S. Navy stands ready to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Central Command said on Thursday.


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