Oil prices higher on Venezuela exports concerns


USA sanctions on Iran also threaten to reduce oil exports from that OPEC producer.

According to the news agency's sources, the White House official called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to make sure that the United States could count on Saudi Arabia's support, both as the world's biggest oil exporter and an influential member of OPEC.

United States oil prices edged up in early Asian trade on Wednesday to move away from lows hit in the previous session, buoyed after industry data showed a decline in USA crude inventories. Gains grew when Algeria's oil minister indicated OPEC would focus on balancing the market rather than on rolling back production caps. Saudi Arabia took this decision because high oil prices could help the stock exchange float of the Saudi Aramco's stake. The surplus in gasoline comes amid higher year-over-year consumer fuel prices and a long US holiday weekend.

Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation were already discussing raising OPEC and non-OPEC oil output by roughly 1 MMBPD, sources familiar with the matter said in early May. The agreement was concluded for the first half of 2017 and was extended until the end of the first quarter of 2018 at a meeting on May 25, 2017.

Oil prices fell on Friday, as weakening demand in China and surging USA output weighed on markets despite supply woes in Venezuela and Iran as well as OPEC's production cuts. U.S. crude oil stockpiles were forecast to have fallen for the second consecutive week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.

Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday that oil demand should determine how OPEC and non-OPEC countries should adjust a current deal on oil output curbs.

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Opec and Russian Federation meet on 22 June to discuss production policy. Domestic production rose to 10.8 million barrels per day from 10.77 million barrels a day the week before. Analysts had expected a drawdown of about 2 million barrels for the period.

OPEC exports increased to 578 billion dollars a year ago from 451,800 million dollars in 2016, stressed the group's Annual Bulletin of Statistics 2018.

Crude prices got an early lift on concerns about exports from Venezuela. Market participants are also anticipating a softening in supply limits from OPEC and Russian Federation at their meeting on June 22, to offset supply outages in Venezuela.

The U.S. request was widely known among industry weatchers.

In late April, Trump in a tweet criticized OPEC for high oil prices.