Oil slips further below $80 a barrel as focus on OPEC intensifies

Oil prices slump as Saudi Arabia and Russia consider output boost

Despite record high USA crude production, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has succeeded in clearing the glut, according to the International Energy Agency.

Brent crude futures were down 75c at $78.82 a barrel by 9.40 GMT, while USA crude fell 46c to $71.74 a barrel.

Brent crude futures gained 71 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $79.22 a barrel.

"The spectre of US oil sanctions on the embattled Latin American producer now looms large as Washington strives to tighten the financial noose", PVM Oil Associates strategist Stephen Brennock said in a note.

The sudden consideration comes in response to rising oil prices that are pushing toward three-year highs and are beginning to drag on consumers. At the same time, the price of Brent crude increased last Friday by 0.2%. So, for the working week that ended on May 18, the country's oil reserves fell by 1.3 million barrels.

"OPEC and Russian Federation may consider easing their production cuts before, or no later than, their joint meeting", Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S, said in a note to clients.

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Given the global nature of the oil market, it's hard to shelter anyone from the impact of higher prices.

USA crude and distillate stockpiles fell last week, while petrol inventories increased unexpectedly, data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday. Exports averaged 1.75 million barrels a day last week and have a cumulative daily average for the year of 1.69 million barrels a day, a 122% increase over the year-ago export total.

In Washington, Democrats are using high gasoline prices, approaching the $3 a gallon level for the first time since October 2014, to accuse the Trump administration of not doing enough to shield consumers.

Some of the biggest oil-producing nations should step in to ease any supply shortfall should shipments from Venezuela or Iran collapse, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said earlier this week.

Meanwhile, OPEC may ease oil supply retraints in June, according to Reuters.

OPEC ministers have been trying to play down fears over supply risk in recent weeks, with Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih and OPEC president and UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei saying the oil market remains well-supplied, with the recent price rise driven by geopolitics, not fundamentals.

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