Top OPEC officials surely did not expect such a dramatic run up in prices, at least not this early in the year. Both OPEC and the IEA have forecasted a rebound in crude storage levels in the first half of this year, a trend that was thought to keep a lid on any price rally. The working assumption was that oil prices wouldn’t dramatically improve until mid-2018. Against that backdrop, OPEC officials didn’t think they would have to answer too many questions about the group’s plan until its June meeting. But with Brent at $70, the market is watching for clues about OPEC’s resolve — and some tiny cracks appear to be forming. Russia’s energy minister said last week that OPEC and the non-OPEC coalition would begin discussing the possibility of a “smooth exit” from the production cuts, according to Reuters . Russian energy minister Alexander Novak also tried […]