From the Field
Oil up on new Venezuela sanctions
LONDON, March 13, 2019 – Oil prices traded higher on Wednesday in Asia following news that the US is planning some “very significant” Venezuela-related sanctions in the coming days, according to US special envoy Elliott Abrams.
Abrams did not elaborate on the fresh measures, although he said Washington might revoke more US visas from Venezuelans with connections to President Nicolas Maduro.
“There will be more sanctions on financial institutions — I think I would leave it at that — and more visa revocations coming very soon,” Abrams said during a State Department press briefing, adding that the US intended to keep up pressure on Maduro through sanctions.
“You will see very soon a significant number of additional visa revocations. You will see in the coming days some very significant additional sanctions,” he added.
Venezuela’s Congress on Monday declared a “state of alarm” over a power blackout that has crippled the country’s oil exports and left millions of citizens scrambling to find food and water.
It was the worst blackout on record and has left the country without power for six days.
On Wednesday, US Crude Oil WTI Futures was up 0.5% to $57.16 by 1:00 AM ET (05:00 GMT). International Brent Oil Futures also gained 0.3% to $66.87.
Reports that an unnamed Saudi Arabia official said the country is planning to cut its crude oil exports in April to below 7 million barrels per day (bpd) while keeping its output “well below” 10 million bpd were cited as supporting oil prices this week.
“Despite very strong demand from international waterborne customers at more than 7.6 million bpd, customers were allocated less than 7 million bpd,” the official said.
March’s oil exports will also be below 7 million bpd, the official said.
In other news, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Tuesday that US crude oil production is expected to average about 12.30 million bpd in 2019, up from an average of around 11 million bpd in 2018.