RIYADH: Oil prices edged up after industry executives flagged concerns about limited spare capacity in the market and uncertainty over Russian supplies.
Brent crude futures recorded gains of 8 cents, or 0.09 percent, to $86.26 per barrel by 10.45 a.m. Saudi time, after settling 0.4 percent higher on Monday.
US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $80.54 per barrel, up 8 cents, or 0.10 percent, following a 1 percent gain in the previous session.
China crude imports fall
China’s crude oil imports fell 1.3 percent in the first two months of 2023 from a year earlier, data showed on Tuesday.
Imports during January-February totalled 84.06 million tons, or about 10.40 million barrels per day, according to the General Administration of Customs. China imported 10.53 mln bpd in the same period last year.
Customs did not give a breakdown for the individual months, but analysts who track shipping data said China’s January imports were below year-earlier levels.
However, they noted that state refiners in February stepped up imports of Middle Eastern crude because of lower official selling prices and bought steeply discounted Urals oil from Russia’s European ports.
State-owned refiners have increased purchases of cargoes for February delivery amid a positive domestic fuel demand outlook and relatively strong fuel exports, Refinitiv analysts wrote last week.
Independent refiners also raised their crude throughput during the two months, operating at 67.5 percent of capacity, which was 4.4 percentage points higher than a year earlier, according to Chinese commodities consultancy JLC.
Venezuela to consider crude production bump with Russia’s Rosneft
Venezuela has laid out a work plan to increase crude production with Russian oil company Rosneft, the South American country’s oil minister said Monday.
Following a meeting with Rosneft president Igor Sechin, Venezuelan Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami said on Twitter they planned “to increase crude oil production and advance new business opportunities.”
Sechin arrived in Venezuela on Sunday to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of the South American country’s former president Hugo Chavez, who was a close ally of Russia.
Moscow has become a lender of last resort for Caracas, with the Russian government and Rosneft providing at least $17 billion in loans and credit since 2006.
El Aissami said Rafael Tellechea, head of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, was at the meeting to discuss “the prospects of the world oil market” and the “shared challenges” of the companies in their respective nations.
Russian companies operate in Venezuela under five joint ventures with PDVSA, producing around 80,000 barrels per day.
(With input from Reuters)