OIL PRICES: ABOVE $52 ANEW
REUTERS - Oil prices recovered a little on Friday after dropping to their lowest in more than three months, pressured by heavy oversupply despite OPEC-led production cuts.
Brent crude oil was up 15 cents at $52.34 a barrel by 0900 GMT, after falling 1.7 percent on Thursday and 5 percent the day before in its biggest percentage decline in a year.
U.S. crude oil was up 15 cents at $49.43 a barrel. It fell below $50 on Thursday for the first since December. U.S. crude is on track for a drop of more than 7 percent this week, its biggest weekly fall for five months.
Market confidence failed after news of another big rise in U.S. crude inventories that have built steadily as U.S. oil production has risen this year.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters including Russia agreed in November to cut output by around 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of this year, but so far it has made little impact on inventory levels.
"Steep price falls in the last two days amid building U.S. inventories show that the market remains concerned about the supply-demand balance," said NAB Group Economist Phin Ziebell.
Crude oil inventories in the United States, the world's top oil consumer, swelled by 8.2 million barrels last week to a record 528.4 million barrels.
U.S. oil and gas drilling has also picked up, with producers planning to expand crude production in North Dakota, Oklahoma and other shale regions, while output has jumped in the Permian, America's largest oilfield.
That has undermined bullish sentiment generated by OPEC's agreement to cut production, and cast doubt on how long OPEC will be willing to reduce output if prices keep falling.
Senior Saudi officials told U.S. oil firms in a closed-door meeting this that they should not assume OPEC would extend output curbs to offset rising production from U.S. shale fields, industry sources told Reuters on Thursday.
Analysts said they expected a period of market consolidation after the heavy falls this week with prices rising before another possible sell-off if investors were forced to shed loss-making futures contracts.
"The market remains overwhelmingly long and any further weakness will force additional reductions," Saxo Bank's head of commodity strategy, Ole Hansen, told Reuters Global Oil Forum.
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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.