Global oil prices rebounded Wednesday after OPEC's most influential member, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, rejected criticism from President Donald Trump and hinted that the cartel would continue with its agreed production cuts.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an energy industry conference in Riyadh, al-Falih said OPEC member states, as well as allies such as Russia, were focused on stability in a global market he described as "brimming" with excess supply and pressured by record U.S. production. He also hit back at Trump's Tweet earlier this week, which urged OPEC to "take it easy", saying the cartel's collective approach, which is removing 1.2 million barrels from the market each day, was appropriate.
"We are taking it easy," al-Falih said. "The twenty-five countries are taking a very slow and measured approach. Just as the second half of last year proved, we are interested in market stability first and foremost."
Brent crude contracts for April delivery, the global benchmark, were marked 41.42 higher from their Tuesday close and changing hands at $66.63 per barrel by mid-day trading in New York while WTI contracts for the same month were seen $1.78 higher at $57.28 per barrel.
Prices were also getting support from the Energy Information Administration also said Wednesday that U.S. crude supplies fell but a bigger-than-expected 8.6 million barrels last week, while stocks at the main export hub in Cushing, Oklahoma declined by 2.8 million barrels.
Further upward support was cited by data yesterday from the American Petroleum Institute, which said domestic crude stockpiles fell by 4.2 million barrels last week to just over 444 million barrels.
"With al-Falih appearing undeterred by Trump's latest attack on the cartel and indicating that cuts will need to continue into the second half of the year, upward pressure on oil may persist longer term," said Craig Erlam of Singapore-based brokerage Oanda. "Of course, downside pressures may remain for now but Falih appeared comfortable with his assessment that demand will pick up, which will be reflected in the inventory numbers eventually."