Oil prices rise on Iran sanctions worries, falling Venezuelan output

Oil prices rise on Iran sanctions worries, falling Venezuelan output

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 33 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $68.38 per barrel.

Aramco's worldwide IPO is delayed until prices escalate even further.

U.S. crude oil exports increased by 582,000 b/d last week to an all-time high of 2.331 million b/d, EIA data showed.

Iran says that its crude oil exports to India have hit 700,000 bpd this month, with sales volume "unprecedented", Iranian media report, quoting a statement by the Iranian oil ministry.

U.S. crude rose on Wednesday, shrugging off data showing rising domestic fuel inventories and production, and both USA crude and Brent held within sight of three-year highs reached the previous day.

U.S. crude oil inventories increased last week ending April 20, and the refining sector fell 328,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on Wednesday. (Granted, this is from a high-water mark indeed - the absolute record of US crude inventories at 535.54 million barrels, but hey).

The World Bank has projected a 20% jump in global prices of energy commodities - crude oil, gas and coal - this year, indicating a continued squeeze on fuel consumers in India and raising the prospect of cramping the government's social spending ability as it heads back to people for another mandate.

In Q1 of this year, OPEC deliveries averaged close to 2.7mn bpd, down almost 20 percent on year-ago levels and the lowest quarter since Q3 2015. Ahead of Trump's decision (May 12), crude oil prices are likely to remain supported. Focus quickly shifted to Macron's speech and the lingering issues surrounding an Iran nuclear deal.

Trump will decide by May 12 whether to restore United States sanctions on Tehran, which is likely to result in a reduction of its oil exports.

According to data from Reuters sources, India's crude oil imports from Iran were around 458,000 bpd in 2017/2018 fiscal year, compared to some 543,500 bpd in the previous fiscal period. The likelihood that Trump will re-impose sanctions on Iran could remove another 1m barrels per day from the market.

"The market is being led down by gasoline as inventories rose due to an extraordinary high level of imports and that is weighing on crude oil prices", said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

As of 0300 GMT, the US Dollar Index was down 0.05% a 90.985.