Oil prices rise on Iran sanctions worries, falling Venezuelan output

WTI Crude Oil

Daily June WTI Crude Oil

After initial losses on the release of the data, USA crude futures rebounded and pared losses, trading down 4 cents at $67.66 a barrel by 10:57 a.m. EDT (1457 GMT).

Trump will decide by May 12 whether to restore USA sanctions on Tehran, which would probably result in a reduction of Iranian oil exports.

US West Texas Intermediate futures were down 12 cents, or 0.2%, at $67.58 a barrel, also off the late-2014 highs of $69.56 a barrel marked earlier in April. Despite putting a proposal forward for an enhanced Iran nuclear deal, French President Macron said he expected President Trump to pull out of the deal.

The oil price has been boosted in recent months by mounting geopolitical fears as oil markets have tightened, with Venezuela's output falling sharply and expectations the USA will return to targeting Iran's oil exports if the Trump administration withdraws from the 2015 nuclear deal.

USA oil major Chevron Corp has evacuated executives from Venezuela after two of its workers were imprisoned over a contract dispute with state-owned oil company PDVSA.

US crude oil and gasoline inventories unexpectedly rose last week even as exports hit record highs, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday in an overall bearish report that raised some concerns about oversupply.

By end-April, China will likely have taken in more than 9 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude - its most ever and almost 10 percent of global consumption.

Gasoline production averaged 9.9 million barrels daily last week, the EIA also said, and distillate production stood at 5 million bpd.

In the United States, production continued to grow, rising 46,000 bpd to 10.59 bpd last week, government data showed on Wednesday. That's an increase of more than a quarter since mid-2016.

The US exports will continue to rise in the medium term, and by 2022, the country will be the fourth biggest oil exporter in the world behind Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq, energy consultancy, Wood Mackenzie, said at the end of January. Only Russia now produces more, at nearly 11 million bpd. The global benchmark crude traded at a $6.55 premium to WTI. The previous record-high was set the week ending March 30 at 2.175 million bpd.

"Market sentiment is turning increasingly bullish towards the commodity", said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at futures brokerage FXTM.

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