Venezuela sanctions leave oil market short of heavy crude

Crude Oil

OPEC cuts & US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela boosting global crude prices

In the meantime, the political rift between Venezuela and the United States continues with the US sanctions against the South American nation giving prices a slight boost. The cartel and the world's biggest exporter, Saudi Arabia, slashed its output more than expected under the OPEC deal, to 10.2 million barrels a day in January and is aiming to pump around 100,000 barrels less in February.

While yesterday's jawboning from OPEC continues to keep the oil complex bid.

The global oil market remains well supplied, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly market report on Wednesday, and output would still likely outstrip demand this year, despite OPEC's efforts and United States sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

While US crude production is expected to grow by an amount that exceeds Venezuela's current output, the IEA warned that quantity is not the only important issue.

OPEC production fell to a four-year low in January as the cartel applied a new pact to boost global oil prices, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday, but Russian Federation and other ex-Soviet states failed to cut back output as much as promised.

"This is because, in terms of crude oil quantity, markets may be able to adjust after initial logistical dislocations", the group added. Analysts were looking for a build of about 2.300 million barrels.

The moderate growth is reportedly tied to the voluntary output cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its non-OPEC allies.

Sanctions announced last month prohibit US corporations and persons from financial transactions with state-owned oil company PDVSA.

The ongoing closure of parts of the Keystone pipeline that brings Canadian oil into the United States also helped prop up WTI, traders said.

However, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, in its latest monthly oil report released on Tuesday, said Nigeria's oil production dropped to 1.687 million bpd in January from 1.797 million bpd.

The U.S. administration likely calculated any fallout from sanctions on oil prices would be small given the limited volumes of crude involved and the expectation that the standoff would be resolved quickly. Additionally, gains are being limited by weakening global demand.

If refiners are unable to source enough heavy and extra heavy crude, they will buy the next best alternative, in this case medium density crudes, so the impact of sanctions is rippling through the entire oil market.

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