Oil hovers near 2019 highs amid OPEC cuts

Oil near 2019 highs amid OPEC cuts, US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela

Oil prices bounced on Friday, as oil rigs in the United States slid this week, offsetting concerns caused by surging USA oil stockpiles.

As for the USA shale juggernaut, Kevin O'Brien, chief business officer at Orbital Insight, told Bloomberg television that inventories stateside have climbed about 3 percent in the past 30 day, s "and we're thinking there will continue to be a build up in the actual inventory, driven in part by the shale operators".

Official oil inventory and production data is due to be published by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) after 1800 GMT on Thursday.

By 1125 GMT, US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were up 51 cents at $57.48 per barrel but still shy of this week's $57.55 per barrel 2019 high.

US crude stocks were forecast to rise 3.1 million barrels. WTI recorded a 3-percent weekly rise and reached its strongest settlement price of 2019.

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Prices, however, remained just below 2019 peaks reached earlier this week as U.S. crude oil production hit a record 12 million barrels per day (bpd) and its exports also surged.

"We'll just have to watch trade talks in DC today".

Much of that growing output is coming from US shale fields, where drillers use advanced methods to squeeze crude oil and natural gas from rock formations.

"Yesterday.volume was low and USA data on crude and products was mixed, so the market didn't really react", Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix consultancy said.

"We see total United States crude production hitting 13 million bpd by year-end, with 2019 averaging 12.5 million bpd", U.S. bank Citi said following the release of the EIA report.

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Despite the slowdown in economic growth that emerged in late 2018, oil prices have been driven up this year by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

Production in the United States, which previous year became the world's top crude producer, rose to record high at 12 million bpd, which could also dampen sentiment, Fritsch said.

The nation shipped out just over 3.6 million barrels a day in the week through February 15, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The group, known as OPEC+, agreed in December to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to prevent a crude supply glut from growing.

That means much will depend on demand, which Goldman said it expected to grow by 1.4 million bpd this year.

Given the supply and demand picture, Goldman said "we expect $60-$65 per barrel Brent prices, on average, in 2019 and 2020".

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