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US oil prices edge up as market eyes tighter supply

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U.S. oil prices inched up on Tuesday, buoyed by expectations of tightening global supply due to U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and production cuts led by OPEC.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $54.77 per barrel at 0223 GMT, up 21 cents or 0.4 percent. They closed down 1.3 percent on Monday, after earlier touching their highest since Nov. 21 at $55.75 a barrel.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $62.72 a barrel, also up 21 cents or 0.4 percent, after closing down 0.4 percent in the previous session.

Analysts said that U.S. sanctions on Venezuela had focused market attention on tighter global supplies.

“Fresh U.S. sanctions on the country could see 0.5-1 percent of global supply curtailed,” said Vivek Dhar, mining and energy analyst, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The sanctions will sharply limit oil transactions between Venezuela and other countries and are similar to but slightly less extensive than those imposed on Iran last year, experts said on Friday after looking at details posted by the Treasury Department.

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With fresh sanctions potentially looming, a flotilla loaded with about 7 million barrels of Venezuelan oil has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, some holding cargoes bought ahead of the latest U.S. sanctions and others whose buyers are weighing who to pay, according to traders, shippers and Refinitiv Eikon data.

Meanwhile, oil supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries fell in January by the largest amount in two years, a Reuters survey found, as Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies over-delivered on the group’s supply-cutting pact while Iran, Libya and Venezuela registered involuntary declines.

Russia has been in full compliance with its pledge to gradually cut its oil production, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement on Monday, adding that production fell by 47,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January from October.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Joseph Radford and Richard Pullin

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Michael Flynn’s legal team is making bizarre moves — signaling he’s still hoping for a Trump pardon

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When disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn recently hired a new firebrand lawyer, Sidney Powell, it suggested he could be maneuvering to change his legal strategy.

And on Monday, new signs emerged that his legal team is looking to shake things up. Flynn had another status hearing on Monday before Judge Emmet Sullivan as he awaits sentencing for charges brought by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In the hearing on Monday, Powell, who had been publicly critical of the Russia investigation before joining Flynn’s team, requested a security clearance to review documents in the case. This was a surprising move, because the government said that there was no classified information in the documents it had turned over to the defense.

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GOP aide — who was arrested for child pornography — jailed for 5 years

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Republican political consultant Carter Ballmann received a five-year prison sentence on Monday.

"A former state legislative aide will spend five years in prison for trying to elicit sex from someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, but was actually an undercover detective," the Columbia Tribune reported. "U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark on Friday sentenced 25-year-old Carter Clinton Ballmann to five years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons on a single count of attempted receipt of child pornography."

At the time of his arrest, Ballmann served as an aide to Rep. Mark Matthiesen, a Republican of Maryland Heights, Missouri.

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Ben Stein: Black people have a ‘very deep attachment’ to feeling like ‘they’ve been victimized’

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On Monday's edition of Fox Business' "Trish Regan Primetime," conservative writer and actor Ben Stein complained about how African-Americans refuse to be grateful for what President Donald Trump is doing for them because they have an "attachment" to feeling like "they've been victimized."

"Let me ask you, though, Ben, in this environment, we're now looking at the lowest unemployment rate for black Americans in the history of the United States of America under none other than President Trump," said Regan. "Is any of that loyalty starting to shift? I mean, are traditional black Democrats saying, hey, maybe the Democratic Party has failed me? Maybe I need to rethink this?"

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