Brent futures are inching closer to the $70 per barrel mark as oil prices have increased for the fourth day on the trot, buoyed by support from OPEC-led supply cuts and US sanctions.

Production cutbacks and sanctions outweighed an industry body report showing an unexpected rise in US inventories for the week ending 29 March, reported Reuters.

Brent futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, jumped 36 cents to touch $69.73 a barrel. In an earlier session futures reached $69.87, the highest level since 12 November 2018. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude increased 26 cents to hit $62.84 after touching $62.9, the highest since 07 November 2018.

Oanda senior market analyst Edward Moya was quoted by Reuters as saying: “The production cuts by OPEC+ are providing a nice backdrop here for higher prices and until we see US production reassert itself, the easier move is higher for oil.”

Oil prices have continued to be supported by production cuts implemented by OPEC and non-affiliated countries including Russia. The producer group began the supply cuts in January and intend to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (Mbpd) of supply in 2019.

"The production cuts by OPEC+ are providing a nice backdrop here for higher prices and until we see US production reassert itself, the easier move is higher for oil."

According to a survey conducted by Reuters, supply from OPEC countries sank to the lowest level in four years in March.

While top exporter Saudi Arabia has exceeded the agreed levels of production cutback, Russia fell short of its target under the deal. Oil output from Russia declined to 11.3 million barrels per day (bpd) last month.

Reuters quoted BNP Paribas as saying: “We assume that OPEC crude oil production will average 30.1 million bpd in 2019 … down from 31.9 million bpd in 2018.”

US Vice President Mike Pence declared that the government would impose economic sanctions on those who support Venezuela’s oil industry. American Petroleum Institute indicated that US crude inventories increased unexpectedly last week.