Oil Prices Mixed on Growing Demand Outlook

Brent Crude

"The OPEC cuts combined with rising U.S. output mean OPEC is losing market share".

The trend is worrying for OPEC.

"If the USA kills the sanction waivers in mid-May it is hard to see OPEC and Russian Federation have a consensus to continue the supply restriction deal at the end of June", Olivier Jakob, an analyst with consultancy Petromatrix, said in a note Wednesday. With the exception of the 2002-2003 strike, this would be the country's lowest oil output in 70 years.

"These DUC wells just require fracking to bring oil to the market". However, supply is growing at a faster pace, which caused the inventory increase during the first quarter of 2018.

This brings OPEC's view closer to that of the International Energy Agency, which expects a less rosy 2018 supply/demand balance. From there, the rally stalled, and USA shale began to take off again, pushing prices back down.

The agency made minor adjustments its annual forecasts, under which rising United States output is expected to helping meet increased demand while OPEC and its partners restrain production. And now, even OPEC has acknowledged this fact.

Declines in Iranian and Venezuelan output due to sanctions could obviate the need for the rest of the OPEC/non-OPEC coalition to continue with their cuts. "It should be noted that the overhang has been reduced by 289 mb from January 2017", OPEC wrote. The OPEC report raised the non-OPEC supply growth forecast by 260,000 barrels a day in the latest edition, and that from the U.S.by about 12 percent to 1.46 million a day. This suggests that the OPEC cuts have had a huge impact.

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Expectations had been for a growth of 2 million barrels.

OPEC as a whole produced 32.39 million b/d in February, according to the Platts OPEC survey, 340,000 b/d below its ceiling of about 32.73 million b/d, when every country's quota under its production cut agreement is added up.

Oil pared much of an earlier gain on Wednesday after the release of the OPEC report.

The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said last week that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill would unlock $10bn worth of oil and gas investment in the country.

Well over two-thirds of that amount would be accounted for by shale oil. Investors must note that oil prices have been consistently coming under pressure in last couple of weeks.

For instance, OECD commercial stocks held 60 days' worth of global demand in January, which is actually 5.3 days below the same period a year ago. A broader market slump initially drove prices lower, while surging American production and increasing inventories remain a challenge. "OPEC and Russian Federation would probably be better off signaling a gradual approach or a "tapering" of sorts", said analysts at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

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