Brent oil hits Dollars 80 for first time since late 2014

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How low will Venezuelan crude production fall?

Michael Wittner, analyst at Societe Generale, forecasts US sanctions will remove 400,000 to 500,000 bpd of Iranian crude from the global market.

Saudi pledges to maintain stability in the oil markets should be taken with a pinch of salt.

"You have the threat that a high enough price will start to activate the 7,700 drilled but uncompleted wells in the Lower 48 states", said Walter Zimmerman, chief technical analyst at ICAP TA.

"Is there any reason not to be bullish?"

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The SP11 agreement was signed last July, making Total the first major Western energy company to invest in the Islamic Republic since sanctions were lifted in 2016.

This week's inventory cycle has been a head-scratcher for participants in the energy markets. As Reuters reported last week, Russian Federation is suddenly on track to run a budget surplus this year for the first time since 2011 - mostly attributed to a 65 per cent rise in the price of crude, which accounts for 40 per cent of the nation's budget revenues. OPEC's sometimes-unruly members have even over-delivered on their promised cuts: as of last month, they were trimming their production by 63% more than they had promised, according to the World Bank.

The strong crude import pace continued this year, and in March Chinese crude oil imports hit their second-highest level on record at that time, while refined fuel exports also jumped to an all-time high, up by 43 percent compared to March 2017.

OPEC and its allies have finally succeeded in their 16-month campaign to clear a global oil glut, with inventories falling below their five-year average for the first time since 2014, the agency said. Capital expenditures in non-OPEC grew by only two percent in 2017, and are still 42 percent below 2014. This domestic production increase will have a significant moderating influence on future oil prices.

"For WTI, while it is under performing at this point, it is not by any means bearish for the US benchmark", said Flynn.

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The bottleneck in North America likely contributed to a 4.9 million barrel rise in US crude oil inventories, to 435.6 million barrels, that the private American Petroleum Institute reported on Tuesday.

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USA crude inventories declined 1.404 million barrels to 432.354 million barrels last week, EIA data showed.

So while $80 might be Saudi Arabia's purported magic number, its spell might prove short-lived. It's important to remember how and why the market got to its current situation.

Prices are also rising on expectations that Iranian output could be sorely affected by Trump's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last week. There's no guarantee that the Saudis will step in to increase production and make up for Iran's lost barrels-after all, the Kingdom has not expressed concerns over the declines in Venezuela.

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