Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Crude falls back after U.S. oil producers up game

Crude falls back after U.S. oil producers up game

Oil hit its highest since May 2015 this week, supported by falling inventories, strong demand and high Opec compliance. The spread between the benchmarks widened throughout the year, as Brent responded to the drawdown in supply from major world producers while US output continued to grow.

OPEC, supported by Russian Federation and other non-members, began to hammer out a deal to cut supplies again in 2016, aiming to lift prices by removing a glut built up in the previous two years.

The gains indicate that the global glut that has dogged the market since 2014 is shrinking.

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A Reuters survey showing that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) compliance with its crude output reduction deal rose to 128 percent in December - but even though this is precisely what analysts insisted needed to happen in order for global supply-demand ratio to return to a healthy balance, they now worry that inventories will be too low later this year. But prices have rallied almost 50 percent since the middle of the year on robust demand and strong compliance with the production limits.

Lipow said he expected USA crude prices to creep up to around $63 a barrel by the end of next year, while Brent would remain around $67 a barrel as US oil exports rise to record levels. It traded as high as $68.27 earlier in the session.

Crude oil prices climbed in 2017 and the Brent-West Texas Intermediate spread has widened, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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Despite relatively high US crude oil production, curtailments in production by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and robust global demand supported crude oil price increases in 2017, EIA said. US commercial crude inventories C-STK-T-EIA fell by 7.4 million barrels in the week to December 29, to 424.46 million barrels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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. Only top producers Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia produce more. Inventories are down by nearly 20 percent from historic highs last March, and well below this time previous year or in 2015. "You're seeing a little bit more of a bullish push-up in the price of oil", Mark Watkins, a Park City, Utah-based regional investment manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, which oversees $142 billion in assets, said by telephone.

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