1143 GMT: Crude futures were trading higher in early European hours
Monday, shored up by speculative investor interest based on the bullish
indicators amid a mixed arena of news overall.

However, some of the momentum from last week was slowing, some analysts

At 1143 GMT, ICE March Brent crude futures was up 34 cents/b from
Friday’s settle at $67.96/b, while NYMEX February light sweet crude contract
was up 48 cents/b at $61.92/b.

In the US, continued stock draws, lower drilling activity and the deep
freeze across the east of the country were providing immediate food for
thought on the upside.

US oil rigs fell five to 742 in the week ended January 5, having
rolled over at 747 for two consecutive weeks, Baker Hughes data released late
Friday showed.

At the same time, the OPEC bloc had a slight uptick in its collective
output to 32.40 million b/d in December, an S&P Global Platts survey showed

The figure was a 50,000 b/d increase from November’s six-month low, but
still below the notional ceiling of 32.74 million b/d.

Crisis-wracked Venezuela’s crude production in December plunged to 1.70
million b/d — its lowest in more than 15 years.

Compliance among the 12 members with quotas under OPEC’s production cut
agreement was 135% in December and 115% for the entirety of 2017, the survey

Iran, meanwhile, produced 3.82 million b/d in December, a slight rise
from the previous month, the survey found, as the South Yaran field
started up in late November.

But the country’s outlook is uncertain, with US President Donald Trump, a
fierce critic of the Iranian government who has stepped up his rhetoric
in recent days following street protests in Iran, facing a January 12
deadline to waive sanctions under the nuclear deal.

Should Trump reimpose sanctions or otherwise cause the nuclear deal to
unravel, up to 800,000 b/d of Iranian crude exports could be at risk,
according to some analysts.

“Since banking, oil and shipping sanctions were lifted in 2015, Iranian
oil production has increased by 1.1 million b/d to currently 3.8 million
b/d…Potentially the US could re-impose banking/USD sanctions on Iran, making
it harder for the country to export its crude oil globally in a USD
denominated market,” Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB said
in a note.

As of 1143 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.25% at 91.980.

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