Indian Oil signs first annual deal for USA oil

Venezuelan Oil Finds Home In India As US Turns Away Shipments

Brent futures were last up 16 cents at $66.41 a barrel by 1850 GMT, having touched a 2019 high of $66.83 earlier in the day, while USA futures rose 47 cents to $56.04 a barrel. On the broader picture, the ongoing OPEC+ agreement to curb oil production, United States sanctions against Venezuelan and Iranian oil exports and the so-called "Saudi Put" should keep a firm floor under crude prices for the time being.

WTI Crude traded up 0.80 per cent at $56.43, while Brent Crude eased off earlier gains to trade down 0.02 per cent at $66.24. This bullish signal combined with renewed optimism coming from both the USA and China that they had made some progress in last week's trade talks. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as some non-affiliated producers like Russian Federation, agreed late previous year to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day.

"The market is slowly regaining its bullish footing, subject to the perception of economic risks tied to US-China trade talks", said Harry Tchilinguirian, global head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas.

"We expect lots of volume going away from Venezuela, west Africa and Iran, so it makes sense to have guaranteed term supplies from the USA, where crude production is increasing", she said. So far into 2019, oil prices have gained around 25 per cent.

Prices have been bolstered by a tightening market because of supply cuts organized by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-affiliated producers like Russian Federation.

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India's overall share of crude oil imports from the North America region increased to 7 per cent in April-December period of 2018, as compared to share of 4.9 per cent in the same period in 2017.

"IOC has finalised a term contract for import of up to three million tonnes of crude oil of USA origin grades as a part of its strategy to diversify term crude sources", the company said in a statement.

"OPEC production cuts and US sanctions on both Iran and Venezuela are limiting supply".

To overcome this, International Olympic Committee previous year floated a tender to buy three shiploads of the USA crude instead of the usual practice of one cargo, an official said, adding that now the board has authorised it to buy crude oil on a term basis.

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