Will oil prices remain strong for the rest of the year?

BP_Alexander

Oil prices kept rising on Wednesday as official data showed an unexpected drop in the US crude stockpiles.

Note: The news says an anticipation of 2.556-M bbl in Crude Oil inventories, a discrepancy of over 5-M bbl.

The premium of Brent crude to WTI rose above $4 a barrel on Tuesday, its widest in a month.

Both benchmarks posted a daily gain of more than three percent, and reached their highest level since February 2.

We see a significant risk of a market correction in the second half of this year as inventories begin to build again, given the rise in oil rigs in United States shale markets.

The country's February output was down by more than half a million barrels compared with a year ago, according to International Energy Agency data last week.

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"Spot Brent crude oil prices averaged $3.36 per barrel more than WTI prices in 2017 compared with just $0.40 per barrel more in 2016, providing a price incentive to export USA crude oil into the worldwide market", said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker at Freight Investor Services global in a note. However, the shortfall in current Venezuelan production is being made up by record US output.

This is in stark contrast to a Bloomberg survey in advance of the government report showing a 3.25 million barrel rise in stockpiles.

"There's an expectation that (Trump and Prince Mohammed) are going to take a harder line on Iran, and that's bringing prices up", said Phil Flynn, a senior energy analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. U.S. President Donald Trump has told European leaders they must "fix the bad flaws" in the Iran nuclear deal or the U.S. would refuse to extend its sanctions relief on the country.

Saudi Arabia called the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers a "flawed agreement" on Monday, on the eve of a meeting between the Saudi crown prince and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia scaled back plans for a public offering for oil giant Aramco, saying it will list exclusively on the Saudi stock exchange (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/saudi-arabia-scales-back-plan-for-aramcos-massive-ipo-2018-03-19) next year. April heating oil rose 2.4% to $1.952 a gallon. Prices rose $1.37, or 2.1 percent, to $67.42 on Tuesday.

- Biman Mukherji contributed to this article.

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