Oil prices hit 2019 peak amid supply cuts

22 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

NEW YORK: Oil prices reached their highest so far for 2019 on Thursday as global markets tightened amid supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and U.S. government sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.

International Brent crude oil futures hit a November 2018 high of $68.64 per barrel around at 0453 GMT on Thursday, up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent from their last close, report agencies.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures also equalled a November 2018 high of $60.27 per barrel on Thursday.

Crude prices have been pushed up by almost a third since the start of 2019 by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as by sanctions enacted against Iran and Venezuela by the United States.

OPEC's crude oil output has slumped from a mid-2018 peak of 32.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to 30.7 million bpd in February. The U.S. sanctions are also disrupting supply. "Venezuelan exports to the U.S. have finally dried up, after the sanctions were placed on them by the U.S. administration earlier this year," ANZ bank said on Thursday.