Global oil supply to swamp demand in 2019 despite output cuts - IEA

Opec oil production falls as Saudi Arabia slashes output

Those fears dissipated after Washington eventually granted waivers allowing several countries to continue to import Iranian oil. The surprise move was created to bar President Nicolas Maduro's access to oil revenue that has helped his embattled administration remain in power.

However, the granting of the waivers contributed to a sharp reversal in crude prices, with Brent dropping to a 14-month low by late November.

Brent crude rose two per cent to $62.74 a barrel.

This represents a premium of $4.21 a barrel for the light crude, but this is down from a gap of $6.18 as recently as early October previous year, and $7.26 at the start of 2018.

Oil prices have remained steady near $60/bbl in London even as turmoil builds in Venezuela, as markets work through plentiful supplies accumulated a year ago, the IEA said.

In the United States, energy firms last week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the second time in three weeks, a weekly report by Baker Hughes said on Friday.

Venezuela has the world's largest proven oil reserves, amounting to around 300 billion barrels, ahead of Saudi Arabia on 265 billion and Canada at 170 billion ("Statistical review of world energy", BP, 2018).

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None of these options are appealing, and all of them are likely to result in higher costs for refined products, particularly the middle distillates such as diesel and jet fuel that are produced in greater quantities from heavy crudes. The price has largely plateaued since then, in spite of the subsequent imposition of USA sanctions.

US crude futures were up $1.07 to $54.17 a barrel.

The cartel's scale-back was in line with an agreement by Opec and non-Opec members in December to trim production by 1.2 million barrels a day from January 1. But a shortfall of heavy-sour crude can cause complications for many refiners, such as those along the U.S. Gulf Coast, configured to process it.

The "call" on OPEC crude is now forecast at 30.7 million bpd in 2019, down from the IEA's last estimate of 31.6 million bpd in January.

It said OPEC crude output was 930 thousand b/d lower in January at 30.83 million b/d, hitting a almost four-year low.

Venezuela sanctions have arrived in a market that was already likely to be short of medium and heavy crudes because of USA sanctions on Iran and OPEC's output cuts.

OPEC members along with allies including Russian Federation agreed in early December to trim production by 1.2 mbd from January 1, in a bid to eliminate a production glut and shore up prices.

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