Oil prices rose on Thursday to shake off some of the previous session’s losses, supported by plunging exports by OPEC-member Venezuela.
Brent crude futures were up 33 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $75.69 a barrel at 0101 GMT.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 38 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $65.11 a barrel. It ended the previous session 1.2 percent lower at $64.73 a barrel.
Venezuela, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is nearly a month behind in shipping crude to customers from its main oil export port, according to Reuters data, as chronic delays threaten to breach state-run PDVSA’s crude supply contracts if they are not quickly cleared.
Tankers waiting to load more than 24 million barrels of crude, almost as much as PDVSA shipped in April, are sitting off the country’s main oil port, according to the data. The backlog is so severe, PDVSA has told some customers it may declare force majeure, allowing it to temporarily halt contracts, if they do not accept new delivery terms.
“OPEC supply changes remain the biggest uncertainties in the market,” said Xi Jianrui, senior crude analyst with oil consultancy JLC said.
Venezuela’s supply trouble comes amid voluntary production cuts by OPEC which have been in place since 2017 in order to tighten the market and prop up prices.
The group is due to meet at its headquarters in Vienna, together with top producer but non-OPEC member Russia, on June 22 to discuss production policy.
OPEC-member Iraq said on Wednesday that a production increase was not on the table as the market was stable and prices good.
This comment followed an unofficial request from the United States asking OPEC’s de-facto leader Saudi Arabia to boost output.
Outside OPEC, however, there were ongoing signs of rising output. U.S. crude oil production hit another record last week at 10.8 million barrels per day (bpd). That’s a 28 percent gain in two years, or an average 2.3 percent growth rate per month since mid-2016.
Surging U.S. production has helped widen WTI’s discount to Brent to more than $10 per barrel.
The United States is close to becoming the world’s biggest crude oil producer, edging nearer to the 11 million bpd churned out by Russia, with exports also surging.
U.S. crude inventories also rose, gaining 2.1 million barrels in the week to June 1, to 436.6 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.