By Ron Bousso
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Wednesday after a reported sharp drop in U.S. crude stocks as OPEC member Iraq said the producer group will discuss whether to deepen output cuts.
Brent crude futures
Oil prices have risen more than 7% this month, supported by declines in global inventories and signs of an easing in trade tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and energy consumers.
Prices rose earlier this week after Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister, said oil policy would not change and a deal with other producers to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day would be maintained.
But on Wednesday, Iraq’s oil minister Thamer Ghadhban said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will discuss at a ministerial meeting on Thursday whether to deepen cuts. The previous OPEC meeting had discussed cuts of 1.6-1.8 million barrels per day, he said.
Prices rebounded earlier after data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) late on Tuesday showed U.S. crude stocks fell last week by 7.2 million barrels, more than twice the amount analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast.
Gasoline stocks also fell sharply, while distillate inventories increased, the API said.
“The API report is quite constructive for the oil market as it points to a tightening domestic oil market in the face of flat production and stronger demand,” Dutch bank ING said in a note.
Official inventory numbers will be released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) later on Wednesday.
Prices had ended lower on Tuesday on speculation that sanctions-hit Iran could revive its crude exports after the departure of U.S. President Donald Trump’s hawkish adviser on national security.
Iran’s oil exports were slashed by more than 80% this year after the United States re-imposed sanctions following its exit from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
(Graphic: U.S. crude inventories weekly changes – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/US-OIL-STOCKS/0H001QE…)
(Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Dale Hudson and Louise Heavens)