With US Production Rising, Crude Needs an OPEC Extension to Sustain Rally

Oil prices are supported today by Tuesday's report by the American Petroleum Institute (API), which reported a 1.4-million increase in crude inventories against expectations of a 3.5-million increase, while gasoline and distillate stockpiles declined in the week to September 15.

But, because OPEC members Libya and Nigeria were exempted from cutting and non-compliance by others, oil markets remain amply supplied, triggering calls for stricter or extended cuts.

Expectation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will extend its output reduction initiative beyond its March 2018 expiry date, along with USA president Donald Trump getting tough with Iran in a United Nations address this week, caused crude on Wednesday to finish at a four month high.

Brent crude futures settled 14 cents lower at $55.48 a barrel, near an nearly five-month high of $55.99 touched on Thursday.U.S.

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Brent crude futures were up 48 cents at $55.62 a barrel by 1020 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 54 cents to $50.02.

OPEC, Russia and other top non-members agreed in May to extend their output deal to remove 1.8 million barrel of oil from the market daily.

Still, "refinery runs rebounded a solid 1.2 million barrels per day, in whole part due to returning refining activity on the U.S. Gulf", he said.

Benign inventory growth seen for US crude stocks last week - despite larger builds feared initially from refinery closures related to Hurricane Harvey - also underpinned prices. The group will be discussing several options, including extending supply cuts through the end of 2018 versus an initial commitment until March, Iraq's Oil Minister said on Tuesday.

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Oil production also improved significantly to 9.51 million barrels per day, which reduced to 8.78 million bpd after it was affected by storm Harvey that hit the US Gulf Coast.

The amount of oil in USA storage tanks grew by 4.6 million barrels last week, a larger build than expected, the Energy Department said Wednesday. The EIA's next weekly dataset is on Wednesday. The profitability line in shale oil production in United States reduced to $45-50 a barrel in recent days, while it was $60 in previous years.

Aside from expectations for a relatively small USA crude stock build last week, oil prices have also been supported lately by a continuous slide in the number of oil rigs operating in the country.

Ministers "may try to lay out some preliminary numbers, but I don't think you'll see anything concrete come out", Paul Crovo, a Philadelphia-based oil and equity analyst at PNC Capital Advisors LLC, said by telephone. All told, total US petroleum stocks fell by 6.6 million barrels.

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  • Ryan Wade