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But this trickles over into the product markets as well.

The Tuesday report estimated that non-Opec members would produce more oil than expected this year, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and the United States.

Oil prices rose on Thursday, buoyed by hopes that potential progress in the latest Sino-U.S. tariff talks would improve the global economic outlook, and as China's trade figures including crude imports beat forecasts.

Given the six- to eight-week sailing time between the Latin American country and destinations in Asia, it's likely that the pinch of USA sanctions will only be felt in April, given that all February cargoes and most of March's are already en route. US and Chinese negotiators are meeting in Beijing this week.

The IEA said that these quality differences could cause some problems this year.

The global oil market remains well supplied and output would still likely outstrip demand this year, despite OPEC's efforts and USA sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly market report on Wednesday. "Crude-oil quality is another issue, and, in the wider context of supply in the early part of 2019, it is even more important".

In that letter to OPEC on January 29th, a day before United States inclined sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, Maduro wrote, "Our country hopes to receive the solidarity and full support of the member countries of OPEC and its ministerial Conference, in the fight we are now having against the illegal and arbitrary intrusion of the United States in the internal affairs of Venezuela".

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The IEA also highlighted this rather weird pricing movements.

The recent developments in the crude oil market have all but eliminated the discount enjoyed by heavy crudes, and in some cases, physical cargoes of some heavy grades have traded at premiums to light crudes. "Since the USA sanctions against Venezuela were announced, the premium of Mars over WTI has soared from $4.50/bbl to over $7.50/bbl".

On Monday, a report from OPEC showed the Middle East-dominated group fell just short of its production goal in January, as a fresh round of production cuts got underway.

Compliance with the Vienna Agreement was 86 percent, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait cutting by more than promised, reads the report.

Saudi Arabia plans to reduce its oil exports to 6.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, down from 8.2 million bpd previous year, the country's energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, announced yesterday. Market sentiment has turned positive - for the time being.

While the region, which accounts for about half of the world's refining capacity, is still able to source oil, it's becoming harder to get hold of the grades of crude that many Asian refiners prefer.


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