SINGAPORE (News Service)- On Friday, Oil prices showed stable position again, supported by Venezuela’s struggles to meet its supply obligations and by ongoing output cuts led by producer cartel OPEC, although surging U.S. crude output was looming over markets.

Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $77.24 per barrel at 0317 GMT, a notch below their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up 9 cents at $66.04 a barrel.

One of the key features of oil markets recently showed was a widening discount of U.S. WTI crude versus Brent CL-LCO1=R, which was quite unexpected since February with more than $11 per barrel, its steepest discount since 2015. Prices were pushed up by supply trouble in Venezuela, where state-owned oil firm PDVSA is struggling to clear a backlog of around 24 million barrels of crude waiting to be shipped to customers.

William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities said, “This is occurring because of the rapid increase in production from U.S. shale coupled with the tightening of supplies elsewhere through the actions of OPEC and Russia”.

Brent was pushed up by voluntary production cuts led by the Middle East, dominated producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and by top producer Russia, which was put in place in 2017.

The group and Russia are ready for a meet in its headquarters in Vienna on June 22 to discuss production policy.

Although the result is quite unclear, most analysts do not think that OPEC will show the green signal.

On Friday, Benjamin Lu, Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures said, “A consensus for higher oil prices and revenues will be the bedrock of every OPEC nation. The countries will not risk a landslide in prices after suffering from the oil crash of 2014”. he added, “OPEC members will play their part in talking prices up to ensure profitability on oil revenues for 2018”.

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