Oil rises as Algeria says most OPEC members support extending cuts

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $48.88, down 19 cents, or 0.4 percent.

Overall, crude imports from Saudi Arabia rose the highest at 42 per cent to 1.38 million b/d from 970,000 b/d.

Oil benchmarks remained in positive territory on Thursday (18 May), as the market continued to extend long trades, or bets in favour of rising prices, on robust statements from Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia in favour of extending oil production cuts.

Both benchmarks increased after the Energy Information Administration reported a decline of 1.8 million barrels in the United States inventory to 520.8 million barrels in the week that ended on 12 May.

The global market for crude oil is welcoming more oil in the form of exports from US offshore basins in the Gulf of Mexico.

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USA crude oil was 16 cents lower at $48.91 and Brent crude fell by 17 cents at $52.04 a barrel. Inventories continue to sit above five-year averages, the level that major producers want oil stocks to return to in hopes of boosting prices, which remain less than half of where they were three years ago.

But other producers have been quick to fill any supply gaps.

Both crude oil benchmarks rose on Wednesday after news of a drawdown in US crude inventories and a dip in USA output.

A surplus of USA supply has led to large volumes of crude being exported from the United States to northern Asia, undermining the Opec-led efforts to tighten the market.

In November previous year, OPEC producers agreed to a historic deal to cut production supplies by 1.2 million barrels per day, first such move since the Great Recession of 2008/09.

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Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows that US oil exports to Asia have soared from just a handful of tankers per quarter throughout 2015 and 2016, to 10 tankers in the first quarter of this year, a figure that is expected to rise in the second quarter.

"The numbers beneath the surface were rather mixed with gasoline stocks falling only slightly on weaker demand and sharply higher imports suggesting sufficient availability of crude oil internationally despite OPEC cuts", said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, Germany, as reported by Reuters.

Can OPEC push crude oil prices higher?

On May 25, leaders from OPEC and other producers will meet in Vienna to decide on output policy.

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