Venezuelan opposition readies US fund to receive oil revenue

Venezuelan opposition readies US fund to receive oil revenue

Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's oil industry are expected to freeze sales proceeds of Venezuelan crude exports to the United States.

The move ratcheted up pressure on Maduro to cede power to National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, who the USA and European allies have recognized as Venezuela's rightful president. "China trade talks", said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies since January have been supporting prices.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $55.13 per barrel, down 13 cents, or 0.24 percent, from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures dropped 24 cents, or 0.38 percent, to settle at $62.51 a barrel. The month was Brent crude's best month since April 2016.

The oil price also came under pressure as weekly data published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed an unwelcome increase in stocks of crude oil. Gasoline inventories also unexpectedly dipped by 2.2 million barrels in their the first decline since mid November as refining activity slowed by 2.8 percentage points to 90.1% capacity utilization rate.

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Earlier on Thursday, Total said that its 2018 oil and gas production hit a record high, growing by more than 8 percent from 2017 to reach 2.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), thanks to the start-ups of Ichthys LNG in Australia, Yamal LNG in Russian Federation, and deepwater projects Kaombo North in Angola and Egina in Nigeria.

US President Donald Trump last week said he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, perhaps twice, in the coming weeks to try to seal a comprehensive trade deal with Beijing, but acknowledged it was not yet clear whether a deal could be reached.

USA imports of Venezuelan crude fell 41 percent to 345,000 barrels a day last week, the least since August, according to preliminary EIA data.

Traders are watching how long a partial closure of the Keystone oil pipeline would last after the discovery of a possible leak in the area of St. Louis Missouri.

More stringent sanctions on Venezuela that bar companies that do business with PDVSA from accessing the USA financial system resemble Washington's measures on Iran, ANZ Banking Group said.

Total's accounts have been blocked due to USA decisions, AFP quoted Pouyanné as saying at the presentation of the group's 2018 financials.

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