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Trump, Iran spar over oil prices ahead of OPEC meeting

17 June 2018

Washington: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries of driving up oil prices, in a fresh swipe at the cartel´s agreement to cap production.

While economic growth is projected to be strong in the US, Europe and Japan, there is a chance of a slowdown in China and India, OPEC said.

Official U.S. production and inventory data is due to be published on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Nigeria's production plunged 150,000 b/d in the month to 1.73 million b/d, a one-year low, according to the survey by Platts. The two countries together accounted for nearly 17% of world oil consumption previous year, making them ideally suited to take on the oil exporting cartel.

OPEC is set to meet in Vienna, Austria, from June 22-23, where analysts anticipate that oil supply will be increased again.

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USA oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery finished up 28 cents at $66.64 a barrel on Wednesday, while European benchmark North Sea Brent oil gained $1.06 to $76.74 a barrel.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) chairman Sanjiv Singh met Wang Yilin, chairman of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in Beijing on Monday and held discussions to facilitate more United States crude oil imports to Asia to cut the dominance of OPEC.

OPEC's oil chiefs struck a deal in 2016 to cut production by 1.8 million barrels a day to reduce the global glut of oil and shore up prices.

The U.S. has lobbied Saudi Arabia and other members, arguing they need to raise output by 1 million barrels a day to keep prices in check, people told Bloomberg News earlier this month.

"The market will be finely balanced next year, and vulnerable to prices rising higher in the event of further disruption", the IEA said in its monthly report. Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation are facing opposition from Iraq, Iran and Venezuela on their proposal to relax output caps, while Washington continues to criticize the cartel for boosting prices.

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The price for Brent has been more or less range-bound in the mid- to upper-$70 per barrel range, leaving consumer fuel prices elevated.

Oil prices steadied on Thursday, but were likely to remain under pressure from evidence of rising USA output and uncertainty over the outlook for supply before a key meeting next week of the world's largest exporters.

"The topic will surely come up between President (Vladimir) Putin and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as they watch their countries' teams in today's opening game of the football World Cup together in Moscow's Luzhniki stadium", PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga said.

But the outlook for the oil market in the second half of this year is uncertain, according to analysts, and Opec argues there are downside risks to global demand.

Fund manager Pierre Andurand at Andurand Capital is bullish.

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In a welcome move, India and China are working on combining their forces to counter Opec's ability to dictate crude oil prices.

Trump, Iran spar over oil prices ahead of OPEC meeting