OIL PRICES: STILL ABOVE $54
REUTERS - oil prices steadied on Wednesday as investors waited to see if OPEC and Russia would deliver promised production cuts designed to end a supply overhang that has weighed on the market for more than two years.
North Sea Brent crude oil LCOc1 was up 10 cents a barrel at $54.03 by 0950 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was up 15 cents at $51.08 a barrel.
Oil prices surged as much as 19 percent after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia announced last week that they would cut production next year in an effort to prop up markets.
But doubts have emerged over whether the planned cuts will be big enough to rebalance the market.
Since the deal was announced, both OPEC and Russia have reported record production and output elsewhere is also resilient.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday it expected domestic crude oil production for 2016 and 2017 to fall by less than previously expected.
"Investors are torn between hopes that producers will cut enough production to balance supply and demand, and fears that they won't," said Tamas Varga, senior analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.
OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers meet this weekend in Vienna to agree details of the output cut, which targets an overall reduction of around 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd).
OPEC member Nigeria, exempt from the cuts, said on Wednesday it hoped to boost its oil production to 2.1 million bpd in January, up from 1.9 million bpd now.
"We will see whether belief in the (OPEC production) deal will hold," said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "There is a big discrepancy right now between expectations, perception and reality."
Despite widespread scepticism, many analysts say 2017 will likely see a more balanced oil market.
"Oil markets are on track to tighten over 2017, which will be accelerated by OPEC's decision to reduce production alongside non-OPEC countries," said BMI Research. "If effectively implemented, we expect the global oil market will return to balance in Q1 2017."
Oil production has been outpacing consumption by 1 to 2 million barrels per day since late 2014.
"The average annual oil price will be higher in 2017 than in 2016, with Brent at $55 per barrel for the year," BMI Research said. The average 2016 Brent price has so far been $44.47 per barrel.
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There are more than a dozen LNG export projects currently being proposed to US regulators, though across the industry almost no final investment decisions have been announced over the last 18 months and some developers have delayed their decisions into 2018 or beyond. Few firm supply purchase agreements have been announced for the projects that have yet to commit to moving forward.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Canada's largest energy customer has boosted domestic oil production from less than four million barrels per day in 2008 to 9.2 million bpd now, while gas output has risen from 67 million cubic feet per day to 89 million cf/d.
Egypt’s fledgling solar industry attracted $1.8 billion of investment, largely from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank’s International Finance Corp.
International Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $57.75 per barrel at 0733 GMT, up 58 cents from the previous close, after trading as high as $58.13. U.S. WTI crude was at $51.95 per barrel, up 50 cents. Earlier in the day, it traded as high as $52.22.