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Brent crude LCOc1 settled up $2.40 or 3.1 percent at $81.20 a barrel, after touching an intraday high of $81.39, the highest since November, 2014.

Crude production in Iran fell 150,000 barrels per day last month.

Brent crude futures were down 4 cents at $81.83 a barrel by 0342 GMT, after gaining almost 1 per cent the previous session. Reuters reported on September 5 that Saudi Arabia wants oil to stay between $70 and $80 a barrel to keep a balance between maximizing revenue and keeping a lid on prices until US congressional elections.

The so-called "OPEC+" group, which includes the likes of Russia, Oman and Kazakhstan, met at the weekend to discuss a possible increase in crude output, but the upshot of the gathering was that the group was in no rush to do so.

Major oil trading houses are predicting the return of US$100 crude for the first time since 2014 as OPEC and its allies struggle to compensate for USA sanctions on Iran's exports.

"OPEC gave a clear answer to Trump, who criticized the group for pushing for higher prices - they obviously refused to submit", said Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst at Rakuten Securities Inc.in Tokyo.

The saudi minister called for the continuation of the cooperation between the signatory countries of the agreement, implying that a division within them could lead to the end of the stability in oil prices.

Fund managers boosted their net position in Brent (+28 million barrels) and US gasoline (+4 million) but cut positions in USA heating oil (-4 million), European gasoil (-9 million) and WTI (-16 million barrels).

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OPEC and Russia have no immediate plans to increase their combined production despite last week's call from President Trump for the cartel to start pumping more, Reuters reports, citing Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak.

Delegates from major oil-producing nations have agreed to continue working to boost output.

Both Dubai physical and paper markets have rallied in recent weeks, with the backwardation structure widening sharply in both cash and swaps timespreads, reflecting Asian end-users' growing concerns about the Iranian supply cutoff after November. Oil demand is forecast to increase by 14.5 million barrels a day to a total of 111.7 million barrels in 2040, driven by an expanding middle class and economic growth in developing countries.

Iranian leaders have already threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, the world's busiest sea route for crude oil exports.

"Depending on the severity and the duration of the Iranian sanctions, the market simply does not have an adequate supply response for 2 million b/d of oil disappearing from the market".

In August, OPEC and its allies cut production by 600,000 bpd more than their pact required, mainly as a result of falling output in Iran as customers in Europe and Asia reduced purchases ahead of the U.S. sanctions deadline.

It's a tough balancing act with President Donald Trump calling for OPEC to increase production to push prices down.


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