Crude oil dropped slightly Thursday, but held near 2019 highs, supported by a sharp tightening of global stocks, Opec production cuts and U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures ended Thursday’s trading session 25 cents lower at $59.98 per barrel, its highest settled price since Nov. 9. WTI reached its highest intraday level since Nov. 12 earlier in the day, at $60.39/Bbl, Kallanish Energy reports.
Brent crude oil futures were down 47 cents, at $68.03/Bbl, at roughly 2:25 p.m. ET, having hit its highest since Nov. 13, at $68.69/Bbl earlier in the session.
The drop in production has led to a tightening in global inventories. Vienna-based consultancy JBC Energy estimated stocks had run down by a “solid” 40 million barrels since mid-January, Reuters reported.
That followed a 9.6-million-barrel plunge in U.S. crude stocks last week, the largest drop since July 2018, boosted by strong export and refining demand, according to Energy Information Administration data.
Opec’s crude output fell from a mid-2018 peak of 32.8 million barrels per day (Mmbpd), to 30.7 Mmbpd in February.
U.S. sanctions are disrupting supply. Iranian oil shipments have slumped. The U.S. aims to cut Iran’s crude exports by roughly 20% to below 1 Mmbpd from May by requiring importing countries to reduce purchases to avoid U.S. sanctions.
U.S. crude production in the U.S. returned to its record of 12.1 Mmbpd last week, making America the world’s biggest producer.
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