Iran's weekly light crude price surpasses $77

Crude Oil

Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 17 cents, or 0.25 per cent, to Dollars 66.87, while Brent crude eased 8 cents, or 0.10 per cent, to USD 77.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The premium has doubled in less than a month, as a lack of pipeline capacity in the United States has trapped a lot of output inland.

Based on last week's price action, it looks as if the spread between Brent and WTI crude could continue to widen this week especially if USA production continues to rise and OPEC and the non-OPEC producers continue to say that any increases in supply will be gradual.

Moscow agreed to cut Russian output by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a 30-year high of 11.247 million bpd in October 2016 as part of a deal to tighten the market and lift prices from less than $30 a barrel, their lowest in more than a decade. Output at the world's largest listed oil producer Rosneft edged up by 0.2 percent in May from April.

USA crude production rose in March by to 10.47 million bpd, a monthly record, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.

Global benchmark Brent crude, which was little changed in the previous session, was down 9c or 0.1% to $77.47 a barrel.

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"The weekly number suggests USA production is really strong and continuing to rip higher", said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData. But without adequate transportation to get crude to the coasts, "we're going to continue to see some weakness in WTI", he said.

OPEC and its partners chose to extend its production cuts till the end of 2018 in Vienna on November 30, as the oil cartel and its allies step up their attempt to end a three-year supply glut that has savaged crude prices and the global energy industry. That was the eighth time drillers added rigs in the past nine weeks.

Pumpjacks operate on oil wells in the Permian Basin in this aerial photograph taken over Crane, Texas, U.S., on Friday, March 2, 2018.

The speculator group cut its combined futures and options position in NY and London by 50,937 contracts to 370,980 during the week. "One can be long or short on either of the benchmark and be stopped-out by the volatility of the Brent-WTI", Petromatrix said in a note.

Instead, he noted that Venezuela's output has fallen by about 500,000 bpd this year and could drop by the same amount by the end of 2018, while USA drillers would struggle to boost output by more than 1.2 million bpd: "So we need every last barrel of those supplies to take us to where we need to balance the market". Brent recovered later in the week, however, when a Gulf source flagged that any rise in production would be gradual.

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