SINGAPORE: Oil prices were stable on Tuesday as ongoing production cuts by OPEC and looming U.S. sanctions against Iran threatened to tighten the market amid signs of ongoing strong demand.
Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $78.21 per barrel at 0639 GMT, virtually unchanged from their last close and not far off a three-and-a-half year high of $78.53 a barrel reached the previous session.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $70.88 a barrel, down 8 cents, though still not far off their Nov. 2014 high of $71.89 a barrel reached last week.
“The commitment of Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC to the production cuts is a major factor in supporting the price at the moment as well as the possibility of reduced exports from Iran due to sanctions,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Rivkin Securities.
The OPEC cuts and looming sanctions come amid strong demand.
The tightening market has all but eliminated a global supply overhang which depressed crude prices between late 2014 and early 2017.
OPEC figures published on Monday showed that oil inventories in OECD industrialized nations in March fell to 9 million barrels above the five-year average, down from 340 million barrels above the average in January 2017. —Reuters