Reuters: Oil surges after OPEC indicates it will maintain output cuts

09:00, 20 May 2019
Economy
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REUTERS

Brent crude was up by 96 cents, or 1.3%, at $73.17 a barrel by 0227 GMT, having earlier touched $73.40, the highest since April 26, Reuters said.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was 82 cents, 1.3%, higher at $63.58 a barrel. The U.S. benchmark reached $63.81 earlier, the highest since May 1.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Sunday there was consensus among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied oil producers to drive down crude inventories "gently" but he would remain responsive to the needs of a "fragile market."

United Arab Emirates (UAE) Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei earlier told reporters that producers were capable of filling any market gap and that relaxing supply cuts was not "the right decision."

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Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Tehran on Sunday, tweeting that a conflict would be the "official end" of Iran, while Saudi Arabia said it was ready to respond with "all strength" and that it was up to Iran to avoid war.

The rhetoric follows last week's attacks on Saudi oil assets and the firing of a rocket on Sunday into Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" that exploded near the U.S. embassy.

"Al-Falih and the UAE both put paid to suggestions of increasing production over the weekend and then President Trump essentially telling Iran to bring it on, was a perfect short-term storm for oil prices," Greg McKenna, strategist at McKenna Macro, told Reuters by email.

OPEC, Russia and other non-member producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, agreed to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January 1 for six months to prevent inventories from increasing and weakening prices.

"This second half, our preference is to maintain production management to keep inventories on their way declining gradually, softly but certainly declining toward normal levels," al-Falih told a news conference after OPEC and other producers met.

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