Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Crude falls back after USA oil producers up game

Crude falls back after USA oil producers up game

Oil rose to its highest since May 2015 on Thursday, supported by unrest in Iran that has raised concerns about supply risks, cold weather in the United States which is boosting demand and OPEC-led output cuts.

Oil prices have received general support from production cuts led by OPEC and by Russian Federation, which started in January a year ago and are set to last through 2018, as well as from strong economic growth and financial markets. The Brent-WTI spread widened to $5/Bbl at year-end 2017 - the largest difference since 2013.

The gains indicate that the global glut that has dogged the market since 2014 is shrinking. But prices have rallied almost 50 percent since the middle of the year on robust demand and strong compliance with the production limits.

Oil closed above $62 a barrel for the first time in more than three years after US crude stockpiles shrank by the most since the summer driving season. Brent crude futures were last up 45 cents at $66.62 a barrel at 1932 GMT. Brent hit $68.27 high last week, the highest since May 2015.

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And if the cheating continues, then Sen's worry of a tightening market may not come to pass at all, especially when one factors in US shale continuing its pursuit of energy independence by pumping full out this year.

Oil prices dipped from heights last seen in 2015 yesterday as a leap in American production undermined a 10 per cent rally driven by supply disruptions and political tension in Iran.

Brent crude traded at $67.38 a barrel at around 12 p.m. London time (7 a.m. ET), down 1 percent, while US crude was seen at $61.41, down 0.9 percent.

"The U.S. shale impact is now encroaching on uncharted territory", analysts at RBC Capital Markets wrote this month, saying it had "redrawn the global crude flow map".

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The agency said USA crude oil production increased in 2017 by more than 384,000 barrels per day (BPD), to 9.2 million barrels per day (MMBPD), based on data through September and estimates for the remainder of 2017. Inventories are down by nearly 20 percent from historic highs last March, and well below this time past year or in 2015.

Lower domestic crude oil prices made USA crude oil more competitive in worldwide markets and supported record US crude oil exports.

In worldwide markets, China has issued crude oil import quotas totalling 121.32 million tonnes for 44 companies in its first batch of allowances for 2018.

Libya is to start repairing the pipeline near the Es Sider terminal this weekend, a Libyan oil official said, while the Forties pipeline was already pumping close to normal levels, according to trading sources.

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