US Reportedly Sought Saudi Backing Before Trump Quit Iran Nuke Deal

WTI Crude Oil

Oil pumpjacks are seen in Lagunillas, Venezuela May 24, 2018.

Crude oil prices edge slightly lower, giving up some of the recent rally sparked by supply concerns; WTI -0.1% at $65.87/bbl, Brent -0.4% at $76.98/bbl. Brent crude, the global benchmark, added $1.96, or 2.6%, to $77.32 a barrel.

"Oil prices are being clobbered by a surprise build to crude stocks as total imports jumped higher, blunting the impact of higher refinery runs", said Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData in Louisville, Kentucky. USA light crude was down 15 cents at $65.37.

JP Morgan cut its 2018 crude forecast for WTI by $3 to $62.20 a barrel, traders said.

Oil prices are still in washout mode after a report that the Trump Administration asked OPEC to please raise oil output by 1 million barrels a day, Bloomberg News reported.

At the same time, supply disruptions continued in Venezuela, as the country is behind on oil shipments to customers by nearly a month, according to data provided by Reuters. That compared with 9.6 million bpd in April.

The supply uncertainty extends to OPEC, as the organization and 10 nations outside the cartel, including Russian Federation, have been holding back crude output by around 1.8 million barrels a day since the start of 2017.

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Kazempour said the group would unite in opposition to the USA request.

One of the key features of oil markets recently has been the widening discount of US WTI crude versus Brent CL-LCO1=R , which has nearly quadrupled since February to $11.40 per barrel, its steepest discount since 2015.

USA investment bank Jefferies said the crude market is tight and spare capacity could dwindle to 2 percent of demand in the second half of 2018, its lowest level since at least 1984. Tankers waiting to load more than 24 million barrels of crude, nearly as much as PDVSA shipped in April, are sitting off the main oil port, according to shipping data.

"It's insane and astonishing to see instruction coming from Washington to Saudi to act and replace a shortfall of Iran's export due to their Illegal sanction on Iran and Venezuela", Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, Iran's representative to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), told Reuters.

OPEC and Russian Federation meet on June 22/23 to discuss production policy.

One of the sources reportedly claimed that the call took place on May 7, while the other two sources did not name the exact date of that conversation.