Saudis urge OPEC+ to stick with cuts, but may delay decision

Venezuela Redirects Exports Above 1Mln Bpd From US to Asia - Saudi Minister

During the last month of 2018, OPEC's de facto leader and the cartel's key ally Russian Federation realized their preemptive production ramp-up to meet a steep Iranian export shortfall would create another glut if they don't implement another round of cuts, which they did, starting in January.

Pump jacks are silhouetted against the rising sun on an oilfield in Baku, January 24, 2013. "The market remains supplied with Venezuelan barrels", al-Falih said.

The group agreed to cancel their April meeting, meaning the next meeting of the producer group known as OPEC+ will not be until June.

According to data by the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI) database, which collects self-reported figures from 114 countries, Saudi crude oil exports dropped to 7.254 million bpd in January, down from 7.687 million bpd in December 2018.

The Saudi minister added that there was a need "to stay on course certainly until June, but we remain to continue monitoring supply and demand and do what's necessary to keep the markets balanced". Brent crude futures contracts that are expiring in April are now at $66.03/barrel.

Brent crude oil futures were up 55 cents at $68.09 per barrel at 1145 GMT, having earlier risen to a new 2019 high of $68.16 a barrel, their highest since November 2018.

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"The chatter out of the OPEC meeting was sufficiently supportive to get us going", said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC in NY.

According to a report in the Reuters, crude markets remain broadly supported by supply cuts led by producer group OPEC and US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.

"The OPEC+ deal has brought stability to crude prices and signs of an extension have taken crude higher", said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.

The delay is an effort to see what the United States decides on Iran sanctions.

Concerns about a global economic slowdown also weighed on oil prices after data showed Japan's exports fell for a third month in February.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note that economic "risks are skewed to the downside" and that "we forecast global demand growth of 1.2 million bpd year-on-year in 2019 and 1.15 million bpd during 2020". At the same time, many investors are skittish about investing in oil exploration and production due to uncertainty, and OPEC+ doesn't want a situation where crude prices are too high, he said.

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