Saudi Arabia Looking for Crude Oil at $100 bbl

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The surge came on a Reuters report that OPEC's new price hawk Saudi Arabia would be happy for crude to rise to $80 or even $100, a sign Riyadh will seek no changes to a supply-cutting deal even though the agreement's original target is now within sight.

After API's Tuesday estimate of a 1.047-million-barrel crude oil inventory draw pushed prices higher, the Energy Information Administration added optimism by confirming a draw, albeit a smaller one, at 1.1 million barrels.

Technical indicators show that the price Saudi Arabia is said to be aiming for may be within reach, with global benchmark Brent crude already above $74 a barrel. US crude and gasoline inventories fell last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report April 17, in contrast to forecasts for a build in USA government data later.

Traders were also looking ahead to the outcome of the joint Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee meeting expected to be held later this week.

The oil market has been supported by concerns about geopolitical tension and supply disruptions in crude-producing nations.

Current OPEC compliance with production cut plans remains above their historical average, and it usually takes between two to three quarters for inventories to normalize after the cuts.

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West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. benchmark, inched closer to $69, climbing to a high of $68.96 a barrel this morning. Oil stocks in developed economies in February stood a mere 43 million barrels above the latest five-year average, down from 340 million barrels above in January 2017. The group, along with Russian Federation, agreed to scale back oil extraction as the price of a barrel of crude hovered around $50 in January 2017.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) secured a landmark agreement to cut supplies along with non-Opec nations like Russian Federation from the beginning of 2017 in order to prop up crashing oil prices.

Mid-week, the EIA and the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a draw of about 1 million barrels of U.S. oil supplies.

"Product demand was strong, products (inventories) were lower, crude was lower - it was really across the board supportive", said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

Meanwhile, major oil producers may be targeting much higher oil prices. Open interest in the contract rose to 7,314 lots in the previous session, the highest since its debut last month.

Also supporting prices is an expectation that the United States will re-introduce sanctions against OPEC-member Iran, which could result in further supply reductions from the Middle East.

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