An electronic display board shows Crude Oil Urals down. Urals oil is a reference oil brand used as a basis for pricing of the Russian export oil mixture. Picture: 123RF.COM
An electronic display board shows Crude Oil Urals down. Urals oil is a reference oil brand used as a basis for pricing of the Russian export oil mixture. Picture: 123RF.COM

New York — Oil prices were mixed on Tuesday, with US crude gaining and Brent crude largely unchanged, as investors prepared for a key meeting of oil cartel Opec next week.

Brent crude futures dipped 3c to trade at $76.43 a barrel by 3.30pm GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 36c to $66.46.

"I was looking for an up day [for WTI] — in just a few weeks it had fallen from about $73 [a barrel] to $65 ... and even for the window of seasonal decline, that’s a big move to go uncorrected," said Walter Zimmerman, chief technical analyst at ICAP Technical Analysis, adding that short-covering ahead of next week’s Opec meeting also provided some support to prices.

Opec released its monthly report on Tuesday, saying a high degree of uncertainty was hanging over the global oil market. Opec and other producing countries, including Russia, have cut oil output by 1.8-million barrels per day (bpd) since January 2017 in an effort to boost the market.

The group holds its next meeting on June 22-23, and is expected to decide on future supply policy.

With US sanctions threatening to cut Iranian exports and the potential for more declines in Venezuelan production, Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia and Russia have indicated they would be willing to raise output to make up for any supply shortfall.

Russian production reportedly climbed to 11.1-million bpd in early June. Top exporter Saudi Arabia — which has so far led Opec’s efforts to withhold supplies — is also showing signs of raising production. Still, Opec said the outlook for the second half of 2018 is highly uncertain, even though the group’s figures show the global glut has gone.

On Monday, Iraq’s oil minister said producers should not be influenced by pressure to pump more oil. Nonetheless, many analysts expect Opec to decide to hike production.

"I feel that if they would like to be a responsible swing producer for the global oil market, based on their [demand] numbers, they should increase production by at least 1-million bpd from the current level," said PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga.

Reuters