Iran, Venezuela weighing on oil market: IEA

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West Texas Intermediate, the USA marker, is $3.21 a barrel below Middle East benchmark Dubai. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $71.02 a barrel, down 29 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement.

Growth in USA output, meanwhile, has tamed price moves for US benchmark crude in recent sessions, preventing it from notching a fresh multiyear high.

The oil price spread that'll determine the type of crude bought by Asia in the wake of USA sanctions on Iran is now in favor of American supply.

The strong crude import pace continued this year, and in March Chinese crude oil imports hit their second-highest level on record at that time, while refined fuel exports also jumped to an all-time high, up by 43 percent compared to March 2017.

The United States has announced it will impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, raising fears that markets will face shortages later this year when trade restrictions take effect. The rising oil prices are also giving the government a headache as a chunk of its annual budget will now be required in its purchase, thereby compromising on other social sectors.

The data poses worries that near-record high refinery runs may be short-lived.

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OPEC's success with the oil production cutting deal has been to a significant extent aided by Venezuela's catastrophically dropping production as the country grapples with foreign exchange shortage, US sanctions, and a devastating economic crisis.

The agency estimates that global oil inventories fell an average of almost 0.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in each of the past five quarters (January 2017 through March 2018).

"The oil market was underpinned in April by renewed geopolitical issues, tightening product inventories and robust global demand", OPEC said in its report.

The call on OPEC crude and stocks will average around 32.25 mb/d for the remainder of 2018, almost 0.6 mb/d higher than April output, according to the report.

The decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal "has switched the focus of oil market analysis from the fundamentals to geopolitics", the International Energy Agency wrote in its regular monthly report.

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