Oil sticking to high points, WTI getting comfortable around $71


West Texas Intermediate, the USA marker, is $3.21 a barrel below Middle East benchmark Dubai. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.5% at $71.33 a barrel.

US crude is trading at a hefty discount to Brent, the worldwide marker, thanks to sharp rises in USA production to 10.7 million bpd, which has left the American domestic oil market well supplied.

"We expect the EIA report to display bearish results amidst higher rig counts and production levels in the USA", said Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures.

Oil has risen 51 percent in the a year ago, driven by coordinated supply cuts and, this month, by concern over Iranian supply after the United States said it would reimpose sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear activities.

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World oil prices have surged more than 70 percent over the a year ago as demand has risen sharply while production has been restricted by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Saudi Arabia, and other producers, including Russian Federation.

Current estimates by investment banks that see lowered Iranian and Venezuelan supply pushing up oil prices also assume that the global-and Chinese in particular-demand growth will continue to be strong.

Refinery runs in March also jumped to a record as import quotas for the small independent refiners-the so-called "teapots"-were increased and refinery margins stayed healthy".

Global oil supplies could be hit by the decision by the USA to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, and also by falling production in crisis-hit Venezuela, the IEA said on Wednesday.

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Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter and leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, told OPEC it cut output in April to its lowest level since the supply deal began in January 2017.

Now the United States has announced it will impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, raising fears that markets will face shortages later this year when trade restrictions come into effect.

A lower US benchmark price could make American crudes attractive in Asia.

Experts pointed out that geopolitical concerns, tightening product inventories and robust demand would continue to provide support for prices.

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