Saudis cut, Russians hiked output ahead of pact: IEA

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Although the agency forecasts that oil prices will remain lower than during most of 2018, the prediction includes some increase in prices from December 2018 levels in early 2019 to keep up with demand growth and support the increased need for global oil inventories to maintain five-year average levels of demand cover.

The catalysts behind the rally are hope for a trade deal between the United States and China and adherence to the OPEC-led plan to cut production, trim the excess global supply and stabilize prices.

The Kingdom is surpassing the 11.9 million daily barrels produced by the U.S.in December, according to the International Energy Agency. "Propelled by the shale-oil boom, the U.S.is already producing more crude than either Russian Federation or Saudi Arabia, who until recently vied for the top spot".

Buyers reasserted themselves on Friday when Bloomberg News and CNBC reported that China had offered to increase imports of USA goods over the next six-years in an effort to eliminate the US trade deficit. "This puts OPEC+ in a spot of bother, as the more they act to support prices, the more challenging it is to gain market share".

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Oil consumption will expand by 1.4 million barrels a day - about 1.4 percent - in 2019, slightly higher than last year's expansion of 1.3 million, according to the Paris-based IEA, which advises most of the world's major economies on energy policy. This is because of the US goal to become a net exporter while reducing its reliance on foreign oil. The countries issued a statement that said the May 2018 reelection of Maduro lacks legitimacy, and they condemned the breakdown of the constitutional order and the rule of law in Venezuela.

In response to the drop in price in the second half of last year, OPEC and non-members elected to cut production by a joint 1.2 million bpd this year.

Meanwhile, China's crude oil imports in December soared almost 30 percent from the previous year, to average 10.35 million b/d. As per some estimations, Russia's lost revenue from fuel oil sales could reach US$3.5 billion: more than a third of Russia's US$9 billion export revenues from fuel oil in 2017. Schlumberger Ltd. offered more reassuring news for those anxious about a glut of United States crude.

USA crude production has soared in recent months, rising by more than 2 million b/d to an unprecedented 11.9 million b/d. "Brent closed at $60.64/b (March contracts) on 15 January 2019, not a bad start after a dramatic fall between the beginning of October and December 2018".

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