Brent oil firms above $70 as OPEC cuts, sanctions outweigh economic worries
Brent crude oil prices consolidated above $70 per barrel on Tuesday as supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and U.S. sanctions on Iran’s and Venezuela’s fuel exports outweighed concerns about an economic slowdown.
Front-month Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $70.14 at 0218 GMT, 3 cents above the last session’s close, when Brent rose 2.1%.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.21 per barrel, up 58 cents or 1% from their last close on Friday. WTI did not trade on Monday due to a public holiday in the United States.
Prices have been supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since the start of the year.
OPEC and some allies including Russia are due to meet on June 25 and 26 to discuss output policy going forward.
“Supply-side issues returned to the fore, with crude oil prices rising strongly,” ANZ bank said on Tuesday.
Beyond the OPEC cuts, U.S. sanctions on petroleum exports from Iran and Venezuela have also tightened markets.
“Iran exports remain under pressure as U.S. sanctions bite. This comes as OPEC appears to be heading towards extending the current production cut agreement,” it added.
Trump last year withdrew the United States from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, and Washington is ratcheting up sanctions seeking to end Iran’s international sales of crude oil and strangle its economy.
Washington has also imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil exports, in a bid to topple the government under President Nicolas Maduro there.
Despite this, markets remain cautious amid an economic slowdown as a result of the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, which is also expected to dent fuel consumption.
Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA said the trade frictions meant “oil’s recovery is fragile.”