Oil prices rise amid Venezuela export concerns

WTI Crude Oil

Earlier on Friday, Iran criticized a U.S. request that Saudi Arabia pump more oil to cover a drop in Iranian exports and predicted OPEC would not heed the appeal.

Further weighing on prices has been rising US output C-OUT-T-EIA, which hit another record last week at 10.8 million bpd.

The group and Russian Federation are due to meet at its headquarters in Vienna on June 22 to discuss production policy."The June 22 OPEC meeting will now likely become the most important factor influencing (the) crude price", Jefferies said.

"Oil prices are being clobbered by a surprise build to crude stocks as total imports jumped higher, blunting the impact of higher refinery runs", said Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData in Louisville, Kentucky.

United States oil production has seen a record high and exports are hitting records as well.

The US government has asked Saudi Arabia and a number of other OPEC members to increase their production by around one million barrels a day, Bloomberg reported yesterday, citing anonymous sources.

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Crude rose above $72 in late May after U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to renew sanctions on Iran and plunging output in Venezuela raised concerns over potential supply shortages.

"[The output decision] is going to be the main event of the month and the main input for the second half of the year, so any change in Opec policy is a big event", PetroMatrix strategist Olivier Jakob said. Analysts had expected a drawdown of about 2 million barrels for the period.

OPEC and Russian Federation will meet on June 22/23 to decide whether to increase production.

United States reliance on Saudi crude imports has decreased in recent years, in part as domestic shale output has risen, but Saudi Arabia remains an important source of USA supply.

However, Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation have said cuts could be eased after receiving calls from consumers including the United States, China and India to support global demand. USA proved reserves totaled about 33 billion barrels, according to the OPEC bulletin. Significant volumes of crude oil were also exported to Europe, which increased its imports from OPEC member countries from 4.40 mb/d in 2016 to 4.64 mb/d in 2017. "The market should stay in deficit" despite Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro's comments his country stands ready to raise production should Opec decide to do so, he said.

The US call for more oil comes despite its own record-setting production.

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