US crude oil imports lower, exports enhance final week

U,S, crude price rises, boosted by Venezuela turmoil

US total oil products exports over the past four weeks averaged about 5.0 million barrels per day, up by 95,000 barrels per day from the same four-week period previous year.

International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at $60.90 a barrel at 0745 GMT, down 24 cents, or 0.4 per cent, from their last settlement.

US refineries that depend on Venezuela's heavy crude would have even more trouble securing supplies as Canadian and Mexican crude are often not as discounted and are limited in availability. The perception of oil's supply-demand imbalance likely worsened as world leaders voiced concerns over the slowing global economy in Davos, which could have contributed to the drop in oil prices early in the week.

At the moment the barrel of WTI is losing 0.02% at $52.92 and a break below $52.54 (10-day SMA) would aim for $51.42 (55-day SMA) and then $50.34 (low Jan.14).

Of apparent less concern to traders was news from Baker Hughes that USA drillers added 10 oil rigs in the week to January 25, bringing the total count to 862 - the first increase in the number of operating rigs this year - however, like the Venezuela issue, this news may have a delayed reaction that could play out in coming days.

The United States signalled on Thursday it may impose sanctions on Venezuelan exports after recognising opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president this week, prompting President Nicholas Maduro to cut ties with Washington.

The bosses of USA companies Occidental Petroleum and Hess Corp, attending a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said growth in US shale oil output would slow.

Also, oil production and exports from Venezuela could be hampered amidst a coup threat on the government. The S&P Global Platts survey had shown expectations for supply increases of 2.9 million barrels for gasoline and 900,000 barrels in distillates.

Even without sanctions, Ms. Croft forecasts that production will decline by up to 500,000 b/d in 2019. Even without new US sanctions, Venezuela's production - now about 1.2 MMbpd - may lose a further 300,000 to 500,000 bpd, RBC Capital Markets estimates.

Shipments to the United States account for about 75 percent of the cash Venezuela gets for crude shipments, according to a Barclays research note published last week.

There has been continuing debate within the Trump administration as to how to respond to the political crisis in Caracas, said Francisco Monaldi, a former PDVSA consultant who now teaches energy economics at Houston's Rice University.

Other industries that rely heavily on oil may feel impacts. That's because Venezuela's oil shipments to China and Russian Federation are usually taken as repayment for billions of dollars in debts.

Guaido is considering naming a board to state-run PDVSA's US subsidiary, Citgo Petroleum, in a gambit to generate revenue for the opposition. The state-owned company owes China US$17-billion and is behind on its payment, so any effort to divert its exports to that market may not yield the company any revenue.

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