Crude Oil Steady Ahead Of Inventories

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According to the US Energy Information Administration, US crude oil inventories fell for the 9th straight week, declining to 6.9mn barrels (mbs) in the week to 12 January. During the same period, South Korea's crude oil imports from the Middle East stood at 69.4 million and 69.01 million barrels, respectively.

"Higher oil prices are bringing more supply to the market, particularly in North America and specifically tight oil", the report said, referencing a form of light crude often called shale oil.

The main bearish factors included the slow but continuous rise of United States domestic crude oil production and potential stronger contributions by other non-Opec producers such as Canada and Brazil.

"If prices remain high, it is USA shale producers who are benefiting more than the Opec producers but if Opec doesn't do anything, they will also lose out, so they are basically treading a thin line between helping themselves and helping everybody else including shale producers", Mr Manibhandu noted.

USA crude production now stands at 9.9 million barrels per day, the country's highest level in nearly 50 years, and the IEA now expects a "record-setting" 2018.

Oman's oil minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhi said producers would discuss in November whether to renew their supply agreement or enter a new type of agreement.

The US oil rig count, an indicator of future production, fell by five this week but at 747, was still much higher than the 551 rigs a year ago, according to General Electric Co's Baker Hughes energy services firm.

Those consumer companies, whose input prices, specifically for oil and oil derivatives, are market-linked, may see their margins being hurt, starting June quarter of this year, Jain said.

US shale drillers are expected to hike crude production by the most since August this month as crude prices hover near a two-year high, the Energy Department said.

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The cartel said it expects world oil demand to have averaged 96.99mbpd past year, an upward revision that was "broadly a result of better-than-expected data for Europe and China".

The price of Brent crude oil closed earlier this week above $70 for the first time since December 2, 2014, and money managers have placed record bets on the recent upward momentum continuing. Shale's rise in production will simply provide supply to meet growing demand, without affecting OPEC's plans, he said.

Rival suppliers would be handed the entire 1.3 million barrel-a-day expansion in the global oil market this year, and us crude output could overtake that of Saudi Arabia and even get close to Russia, IEA data show.

At the current oil price level, the forward curve is well above marginal costs across regions which could lead to a gradual increase in producer hedging and drilling activity, Goldman said. Since then, the stockpiles in USA have continued to decline.

And while the market appears to be shrugging off this prospect for now, say Alison Sider and Stephanie Yang in The Wall Street Journal, just wait until the production jump becomes increasingly visible later in the year.

Market tightening in the final months of 2017 was evident and continued into 2018.

However, recent circumstances have some market watchers thinking that OPEC may end its cuts early on the back of rising prices.

The chart pattern suggests crude oil prices should remain under pressure for 2 to 3 weeks.

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