Brent crude firm on drop in US inventories, Middle East tension

Adnoc's offshore Bu Haseer oilfield. Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Tuesday said they are prepared to address global oil market imbalances if necessary

Outage in Alberta's oilsands is pushing U.S. crude to a four-year high

President Donald Trump has again lashed out at an global body - this time, it's the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which he accused Wednesday afternoon of driving up gas prices.

The Iranian governor to OPEC said Thursday the USA president should avoid stepping into the production group's work with calls to drive down the price of oil.

Crude-oil prices retreated early Friday and were on track to book a weekly loss for the first time in three weeks, a day after the USA benchmark contract suffered its lowest settlement in more than a week amid signs of rising production in Saudi Arabia and protracted trade tensions between the United States and China, according to monitored reports.

The producers' group and partners agreed on June 23 to increase oil production, with the Saudi and Russian energy ministers saying it would add about 1 million barrels a day to the market.

Oil prices edged up on Wednesday following a report of tightening US fuel inventories amid an outage at Syncrude Canada oil sands facility in Alberta, which usually supplies the United States. "Please stop this method".

"The more that Saudi Arabia adds to the market, the less of a supply cushion we have - that's a bullish twist to a bearish development", said Yawger at Mizuho.

Oil surged in the past two weeks as the USA pushes allies to end imports of Iranian crude, disruptions persist in places like Libya and American crude inventories shrink.

USA crude futures slipped on Thursday after data showed an unexpected 1.3 million-barrel build in crude inventories.

Vijay Valecha, chief market analyst at Century Financial Brokers, said the UAE's crude oil production peaked in October 2016 at 3.13 million bpd and has declined since then in line with the Opec production cuts.

USA crude futures were up 19 cents at $74.33 a barrel, within sight of Tuesday's 3-1/2-year high above $75 a barrel.

Ardebili declared, "OPEC has not defined oil prices for the past 30 years".

"If Trump continues to believe that OPEC are not doing enough, we would not rule out an SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) release from the USA, or possibly even export restrictions on petroleum products", ING said in a note.

He said: "Supply side disruptions that are bullish for oil, and demand side forces including the threat of trade protectionism that threaten the global economy and would thus be bearish for oil prices and most other commodities".

Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 1.4 million barrels per day. And while US shale oil production continues to rise, global demand for oil remains strong.

Trump has repeatedly called on the oil cartel to reduce prices.

Last month, Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation agreed to increase production and the USA continues to produce at record levels, however, unless there is a drop in demand, it appears we are headed toward a supply deficit later this year.

Iran's representative to OPEC, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, replied on Thursday by blaming Trump.

Oil was mixed on Friday, with short-covering pushing up USA crude futures while Brent slipped on global trade tensions and increased Saudi production.

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