RIYADH: Oil slipped in Asian trade on Wednesday, after two straight days of gains, as an industry report showed US crude inventories rose unexpectedly last week in a sign demand may be weakening.
Brent futures, which have risen more than 3 percent this week, were down 40 cents, or 0.53 percent, at $74.92 a barrel at 11.15 a.m. Saudi time.
US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 45 cents, or 0.65 percent, at $69.22.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday showed US crude inventories rose by about 3.3 million barrels in the week ended March 17, Reuters reported citing sources.
PDVSA head Tellechea appointed as new oil minister
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday named the head of state oil company PDVSA, Pedro Rafael Tellechea, as the new oil minister, a day after his predecessor resigned amid an extensive corruption investigation focused on the company.
Former minister Tareck El Aissami resigned on Monday after the arrest of several government officials and judges in connection with graft investigations.
Tellechea has been the head of PDVSA since January and ordered an audit into heavy losses suffered last year as tankers left the country without proper payments being made for cargo.
Tellechea first rose to prominence as head of the state chemical company Pequiven, where he oversaw a boost in petrochemical exports that provided much-needed cash flow to Maduro’s administration.
He kept that post even as he ran PDVSA. It was unclear whether a successor or successors would take over those jobs.
Moscow to maintain 500,000 bpd oil output cut to end June
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday that Russia will continue a 500,000 barrels per day oil production cut until the end of June.
“At the moment, Russia is close to achieving the target level of reduction — it will be reached in the coming days,” Novak said, referring to the announcement he made last month that Russia would cut by 500,000 bpd from March.
“In accordance with the current market situation, the decision to voluntarily reduce production by the amount of 500,000 bpd will be valid until June 2023 inclusive.”
In a statement, Novak said the global oil market was under unprecedented pressure, citing Western energy embargoes against Russia and what he called dangerous attempts to cap the price of Russian oil.
Russia’s unilateral output cut is in addition to an agreement by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies known as OPEC+, which agreed to steep output cuts of 2 million bpd from November until the end of 2023.
A high-level ministerial panel from the group is scheduled to meet on April 3 to discuss market conditions, with a full ministerial meeting planned for June 4.
(With input from Reuters)