OIL PRICES: OVER $50 ANEW
REUTERS - Oil prices fell on Monday, pulled down by rising U.S. drilling activity and by doubts whether an OPEC-led production cut initially due to end in mid-2017 would be extended.
Benchmark Brent crude futures fell by 33 cents, or 0.65 percent, from their last close to $50.47 per barrel by 0653 GMT.
In the United States, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 41 cents, or 0.85 percent, at $47.56 a barrel.
Traders said that prices were pulled down by rising U.S. drilling and production as well as over uncertainty whether the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, who met in Kuwait over the weekend, would extend output cuts beyond the middle of the year.
"There is currently no shortage of crude oil...the fact that shale oil is going to burgeon is also painfully evident," said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta. Vijayakar said there also "seems to be a difficulty in reaching consensus on extending the production cuts".
Traders said that rising U.S. drilling activity and oil production were contributing to financial traders reducing their long positions in crude futures to the lowest level since early December.
Since mid-2016, U.S. oil production has risen by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 8.3 percent, to 9.13 million bpd, government data shows.
U.S. bank Goldman Sachs said that should the rig count stay at current levels and the impact of previously closed rigs returning to production was considered, then U.S. oil production would rise by 235,000 bpd between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first half of 2017.
Because of soaring U.S. output and the cuts by OPEC, the discount of U.S. WTI crude prices to international Brent crude has grown to around $2.90 per barrel, heading for its widest close since late 2015, encouraging more sales of U.S. oil to Asia to replace cuts in Middle East production.
Despite the ongoing fuel supply overhang and rising U.S. shale output, Goldman Sachs said that global oil markets were slowly rebalancing, largely due to strong demand growth.
"While the shale production rebound has surprised to the upside, it will be offset in our view by the high compliance to the production cuts through 1H17 and most importantly, strong demand levels," the bank said.
"We believe that the rebalancing of the oil market is in fact making progress," it said, adding that an OPEC-led extension of the production cut was therefore not needed.
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AN - China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is willing to invest $3 billion in its existing oil and gas operation in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Sunday following a meeting with the Chinese in Abuja.
REUTERS - Production at Libya’s giant Sharara oil field was expected to fall by at least 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Saturday after two staff were abducted in an attack by an unknown group, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said.
IMF - Output grew by 3.8 percent in 2017, underpinned by a resilient non-hydrocarbon sector, with robust implementation of GCC-funded projects as well as strong activity in the financial, hospitality, and education sectors. The banking system remains stable with large capital buffers. Growth is projected to decelerate over the medium term.
IMF - Higher oil prices and short-term portfolio inflows have provided relief from external and fiscal pressures but the recovery remains challenging. Inflation declined to its lowest level in more than two years. Real GDP expanded by 2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of last year. However, activity in the non-oil non-agricultural sector remains weak as lower purchasing power weighs on consumer demand and as credit risk continues to limit bank lending.