• Oil prices at their highest level in 5 months as it is approaching $ 70 a barrel



    *Osama Suleiman from Vienna


    Crude oil prices continued their record gains with the highest level in five months to close to $ 70 a barrel, as a result of a combination of a number of key factors supporting the continued rise in prices.

    The main factor is the reduction of production from the OPEC producers' alliance and beyond, and the widening losses of US economic sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, which face heavy losses than previously expected.

    The biggest support for price growth came after strong economic data from China, which led to a decline in concerns about the growth rate of demand, as well as increasing signs of a slowdown in US oil supplies.


    Analysts and oil specialists said to the Economist that Schlumberger and Halliburton's expectations of a 10 percent fall in US drilling spending this year reflect the difficulties facing US production at the current stage, which prevent growth spikes from continuing at the same levels.

    Analysts said that some US companies are suffering from unprofitable drilling, which is tightening the screws on small and medium-sized companies, where they are least competitive.

    They pointed to the poor performance of several wells that have been drilled recently, which led to raise expectations about the slowdown in US supplies.

    They pointed out that the US slowdown is bolstering upward price pressures in line with OPEC production cuts and US economic sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, while on the other hand, there is a level of US stocks is still relatively high with the start of treatment gradually.


    Goran Jeras, assistant director of ZDF Bank in Croatia, said that the rise in US oil inventories is temporary and these stocks are under heavy pressure as a result of the disruption of Venezuelan supplies and the activity of US refineries, which strengthens the chances of rising prices with Barclays estimated price of US oil above $ 65 a barrel.

    He pointed out that the US drilling platforms continue to decline for the sixth week in a row, which is a real reflection of the great difficulties faced by US production and prevent the continuation of the pace of supplies as high as in the past, or as expected during the current year and future years.


    For his part, said Mofeed Mandra, vice president of the Austrian company "LMF", said that the record level of production of "OPEC" is at the lowest rates since 2015, which is a sign of seriousness in the implementation of the agreement to reduce production at high levels of matching, as well as some voluntary cuts to major producers, particularly Saudi Arabia, as well as the severe crisis caused by sanctions in Venezuela and Iran.

    "China's largest monthly increase in industrial PMI since 2012," he said, "is also a strong indication of the recovery of demand indicators and thus led to a significant decline in concerns surrounding the future of global economic growth."


    Markus Krug, chief analyst at A-Control Oil and Gas Research, said that one of the biggest negative risks to the crude oil market that could be avoided altogether if there is a breakthrough in the negotiations and trade talks between China and the United States in a manner that would lead to the elimination of mutual tariffs and the revival of global economic growth.

    He pointed out that the market cannot continue at a single pace for a long time without doubt will lead successive increases to entice more investors to increase production, especially from the producers of rock oil as they are the most and the fastest response to price movements.

     Market speculation is still high, leading to price declines between periods.


    In turn, Katie Krisky, oil analyst and the specialist of the affairs of "OPEC", said that production cuts carried out by OPEC countries and abroad have succeeded during the first quarter in halting price deterioration and making significant progress in tackling supply oversupply and the high level of oil stocks.

    She poted that the Alliance of Producers is committed to maintaining these cuts during the second quarter to complete the plan to restore balance in the market.

    She pointed out that the partnership of producers in OPEC and abroad is growing stronger over time, and that the next meeting of producers in Vienna will be a strong opportunity to review and assess the market situation and agree on production policies in the second half of the year, which is expected to be better both at the level of prices or investment growth and supply and demand balance.


    In terms of prices, oil prices rose to a five-month high, which is backed by strong Chinese economic data, dampened fears about demand as well as the possibility of new sanctions on Iran and a further disruption of Venezuelan supplies.


    According to "Reuters", by 06:36 GMT, the benchmark Brent crude rose 15 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $ 69.16 per barrel, after touching $ 69.50, the highest since mid-November.

    US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $ 61.73 a barrel, after crossing the $ 62 barrier for the first time since early November.

    Prices supported positive data from the two largest economies in the world, the United States and China.

    The data showed that China's manufacturing sector returned unexpectedly to growth in March for the first time in four months.

    Most Asian equity markets rose, with strong industry data boosting investor confidence.

    Manufacturing data in the US also came in better than expected in March by helping investors outperform weak retail sales data for February.


    On the supply side, a senior US administration official told reporters said that Washington is considering imposing additional sanctions on new sectors of the Iranian economy.

    The official noted that the United States may not extend exemptions from sanctions on Iranian oil exports, as the exemptions for eight importers expire next month.

    OPEC crude basket rose $ 68.31 per barrel, compared to $ 67.23 a barrel the previous day.

    The daily report of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) confirmed that the price of the basket, which includes the average prices of 14 tons of production by the member countries of the Organization achieved its second consecutive increase.

    The basket also earned about two dollars compared to the same day last week, which recorded 66.19 dollars a barrel.


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