Saudi Arabia may seek to push crude oil as high as $100/bbl

Image Oil Industry Faces Problems Ahead

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures (CLc1) were up 59 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $67.11 a barrel. That was the highest finish for a front-month contract since December 1, 2014, according to FactSet data.

Crude inventories fell 1.1 million barrels in the week to April 13, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 1.4 million barrels.

Futures in NY rose as much as 2%, extending their gain beyond last week's three-year high.

"Yesterday evening saw the API report a surprising decrease in USA crude oil stocks and a reduction in oil product stocks that was sharper than anticipated", Commerzbank oil analyst Carsten Fritsch said in a note.

"A solid drop in imports has encouraged a draw to oil inventories, while refinery runs remain strong", said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

Fundamentals are indeed weighing on prices: US oil production exceeded 10.5 million barrels daily two weeks ago and most likely continued to increase last week as well.

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"Beyond the headlines, gasoline demand was very strong, virtually summer-like, and crude oil exports are climbed back toward 2 million bpd at 1.75 million".

Official weekly data on USA inventory levels will be published by the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.

The weekly measurement on demand may be "overstated", but "suggests that some driving season weeks in 2018 will see more than 10 million [barrels a day] in gasoline demand, unless there is a disincentive tied to a much more radical increase in gas prices", said Kloza.

Meanwhile, major oil producers may be targeting much higher oil prices.

OPEC's new price hawk Saudi Arabia would be happy for crude to rise to $80 or even $100, three industry sources said, a sign Riyadh will seek no changes to a supply-cutting deal even though the agreement's original target is within sight. (CVX) executives in OPEC-member Venezuela comes in the midst of the nation's anticorruption crackdown.

"Despite an oil price of over $70 per barrel and the fact that the oversupply has been eliminated, a phase-out of the production cuts will not be on the agenda", Commerzbank oil analyst Carsten Fritsch said.

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