Oil prices up following crude inventories' fall

US oil production’s output will average 10.3 million barrels per day this year

US oil production’s output will average 10.3 million barrels per day this yearDAVID MCNEW GETTY IMAGES

EIA's latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) from earlier this week estimated that USA crude oil production averaged 9.3 million bpd in the whole of 2017, and 9.9 million bpd in December alone.

Rising prices are putting US production on track to rival both Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation, with output likely to exceed 10 million barrels a day as soon as next month and top 11 million before the end of 2019, according to Energy Information Administration forecasts.

The market was supported by OPEC-led production cuts and expectations that US crude inventories have dropped for an eighth week. Analysts said that could have been the result of extreme cold temperatures across the United States.

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At 08:53 a.m. EST on Friday, WTI Crude was down 0.44 percent at $63.26, and Brent Crude was down 0.14 percent at $68.89, as investors were awaiting U.S. President Trump's decision on Iran and Baker Hughes rig count data. "Supply disruptions and falling USA and global inventories have driven crude oil higher", said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in a note. The session high for the global benchmark was US$69.37, highest since May 2015.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said Tuesday that prices this year were supported in part by OPEC commitments, but also by demand strains from severe winter weather. Analysts warned the market is not paying enough attention to USA production increases. A weaker dollar generally boosts oil, which is priced in the US currency.

Bearish signals include a rise in fuel inventories as well as a fall in refined products profits in Asia, which are expected to hamper orders for new feedstock crude.

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Oil topped $70 a barrel in London for the first time in three years as production cuts by OPEC and rising demand whittle away a global surplus.

OPEC crude oil production is forecast to increase by 0.2 MMBPD in 2018, partially reflecting the Energy Information Administration's expectation of Libya maintaining relatively high production levels achieved near the end of 2017, according to EIA's just-released Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).

But Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, warned on Friday that while oil prices at $65 to $70 per barrel are good for oil producers now, there is a risk that such a level would encourage more oversupply from USA shale drillers.

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Only Russia and Saudi Arabia have produced more crude, hitting peak output of over 11 million bpd and about 10.7 million bpd respectively in recent years.

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