Oil majors and the rising oil price

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Major oil producing-countries have grown concerned that as prices remain near these levels, it will spur additional production from USA shale patches in Texas and North Dakota, risking overwhelming the market with additional supply, and hurting OPEC's market share.

Oil had its best start to a year in five years as Opec and its allies continue supply cuts to drain a global glut.

Because crude oil prices are expected to be relatively flat through 2019, USA gasoline prices are also expected to remain near current levels.

Relatively weak Chinese December oil data weighed on prices, traders and analysts said.

Analysts expect refinery utilization fell 0.5 percentage point last week to 96.2% of capacity. More recently it was boosted by extremely cold weather in the USA and China, along with protests in Iran, where the lifting of global sanctions two years ago hasn't provided the relief expected.

With the cold front lifting this week, the focus will quickly shift back to whether US production can head even higher - as many forecasters expect - particularly given this recent boost in oil prices. It's interesting to note that Brent oil has reached this level for the first time since 2014. In December 2016 was a meeting of oil producers outside the OPEC.

Brent crude oil hit a more than three-year high on Thursday, breaking through the psychologically important $70 a barrel level for the first time since December 2014.

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Even prior to the recent oil high two supermarket retailers added 0.5ppl to their prices in one day, and the United Kingdom average prices of both petrol and diesel have gone up by almost a penny since Christmas.

The price for Brent crude oil was down 0.13 percent as of 9:17 a.m. EST to $69.11 per barrel.

OPEC's aim is to ensure the stabilisation of oil markets. The organization reported that oil reserves in the USA for the week ended on January 5, decreased by 11.19 million barrels, which is the strongest decline since September 2016. This price difference is expected to narrow from the $6/b average price difference seen in the fourth quarter of 2017 because current constraints on the capacity to transport crude oil from the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub (the geographic location associated with the WTI price) to the U.S. Gulf Coast are expected to gradually lessen.

"If oil stays at this level, pump price hikes will be nearly inevitable".

This week, the API is reporting another build in gasoline inventories of 4.338 million barrels for the week ending January 5.

Crude oil prices have a limited adverse effect on the economy as long as they stay below $70 per barrel.

"But if short-term influencers like the Iranian protests and Venezuela production issues were to be sorted out, a sharp price reversal could very well be in the cards".

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