Oil near late-2014 highs as Saudi pushes for higher prices, U.S. crude stocks decline

Oil near late-2014 highs as Saudi pushes for higher prices, U.S. crude stocks decline
# 19 April 2018 05:02 (UTC +04:00)

Oil prices on Thursday remained close to highs touched the previous day that were last seen in late 2014, buoyed as U.S. crude inventories declined and as top exporter Saudi Arabia is expected to keep withholding supply to prop up the market, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at $73.79 per barrel at 0028 GMT, up 31 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up 29 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $68.76 a barrel.

Brent on Wednesday marked its highest level since November, 2014 at $73.93 per barrel. WTI hit its strongest since December, 2014 at $68.91 a barrel.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that top oil exporter Saudi Arabia would be happy to see crude rise to $80 or even $100 a barrel, which was seen as a sign that Riyadh will seek no changes to an OPEC supply-cutting deal that was introduced in 2017 to boost prices.

“The Saudis and their colleagues in OPEC need higher oil for their fiscal positions and the Kingdom is on a bold – and costly – reform program. So they might continue to squeeze the lemon while they have the chance,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

Led by Saudi Arabia, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a group of other producers that includes Russia started to withhold output in 2017 to rein in oversupply that had depressed prices since 2014.

Since the start of the voluntary restraint, crude inventories have been gradually declining from record levels toward long-term average levels.