OIL PRICES: ABOVE $56 AFRESH
REUTERS - Oil prices fell on Monday as increased exports from Iran undermined efforts by other oil producers to curb a global fuel supply overhang and as U.S. drillers increased activity for a 10th straight week.
Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were trading at $56.84 per barrel at 0535 GMT (00.35 a.m. ET), down 26 cents from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 were trading at $53.70 per barrel, down 29 cents.
Traders said the lower prices were a result of rising exports from Iran that come just as other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut supplies in an effort to end a global glut.
Iran has sold more than 13 million barrels of oil held on tankers at sea, capitalizing on an OPEC output cut deal from which it is exempted to regain market share and court new buyers, according to industry sources and data.
The amount of Iranian oil held at sea has dropped to 16.4 million barrels, from 29.6 million barrels at the beginning of October, according to Thomson Reuters Oil Flows data.
Before that sharp drop, the level had barely changed in 2016; it was 29.7 million barrels at the start of last year, the data showed.
Iran's surging tanker exports weren't the only indicator of plentiful supplies.
U.S. energy companies last week added oil rigs for a tenth week in a row, extending a recovery in activity into an eighth month as crude prices remained at levels at which many drillers can operate profitably.
"The next leg up in prices probably won't occur until the traders see evidence that production levels are falling. In the meantime, rising U.S. drilling activity and output is likely to keep prices in check," ANZ bank said on Monday.
Drillers added four oil rigs in the week to Jan. 6, bringing the total count to 529, the most since December 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday.
As a result of the increased drilling, U.S. oil output C-OUT-T-EIA has risen by over 4 percent from its 2016 low to almost 8.8 million barrels per day, although production remains 8.74 percent below its 2015 peak.
In physical markets, Iraq raised its February official selling price (OSP) for Basra Light crude to Asia by $0.50 to minus $0.90 a barrel against the average of Oman/Dubai quotes from the previous month, the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) said on Monday.
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WNA - Apart from adding capacity, utilisation of existing plants has improved markedly since 2000. In the 1990s capacity factors averaged around 60%, but they have steadily improved since and in 2010, 2011 and 2014 were above 81%. Balakovo was the best plant in 2011 with 92.5%, and again in 2014 with 85.1%.
WNA - India has a flourishing and largely indigenous nuclear power programme and expects to have 14.6 GWe nuclear capacity on line by 2024 and 63 GWe by 2032. It aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.
WNA - Mainland China has 38 nuclear power reactors in operation, about 20 under construction, and more about to start construction. The reactors under construction include some of the world's most advanced, to give a 70% increase of nuclear capacity to 58 GWe by 2020-21. Plans are for up to 150 GWe by 2030, and much more by 2050.
PLATTS - "The domestic uranium mining industry needs US government assistance to survive the foreign onslaught -- particularly from Russia and Kazakhstan -- that has undermined the US uranium industry while new players -- particularly China -- will soon make the situation worse," Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy said in a petition they jointly filed with the department.