OIL PRICES: ABOVE $48
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG - Oil slid more than 4 percent on Thursday, to its lowest since late November as investor worries about a growing global glut of crude erased most of the gains that followed last year's OPEC's output cut.
The slide worsened after OPEC delegates said their group and other producing countries were downplayed the chance of a bigger output when the producers meet on May 25, even though they said the output cuts were likely to be extended.
U.S. crude CLc1 fell $2.05 or 4.3 percent to $45.77, by 12:08 p.m. Brent was down $2.07, or 4.1 percent to $48.71.
“The market continues to hunt for a bottom," said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. "We’ve dropped to a five month low.”
Late last year, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), together with other key producers such as Russia and Oman, announced that they would cut oil output for the first six months of this year to reduce a vast global overhang of unused crude.
The pledge to remove 1.8 million barrels per day from the market sparked a 25-percent rally in the price, pushing Brent crude to 18-month highs.
But despite the OPEC action, McGillian said, "We still have a near record overhang and signs of increasing production in areas of the world outside the producers that agreed to the cuts."
Crude output has surged in the United States, with increasing rig counts for the past 11 months.
U.S. government data on Wednesday showed crude stocks USOILC=ECI fell 930,000 barrels in the week to April 28, while analysts had been expecting a drop of 2.3 million barrels. Stocks have steadily declined for the last four weeks, but at 527.8 million barrels they are just 7 million barrels off a record high.
Russia's Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, said in written comments on Thursday that his country is inclined to extend.
But the market continues to question whether continuing the 1.8 million bpd cut will be sufficient to reduce the glut significantly.
"At some point, the market should recognize OPEC isn't the most important player in the market any more," said Commerzbank's Eugen Weinberg, "That is non-OPEC, and, above all, U.S. shale."
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REUTERS - Brent LCOc1 futures fell 43 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $79.14 a barrel by 0218 GMT, after climbing 35 cents on Tuesday. Last week, the global benchmark hit $80.50 a barrel, the highest since November 2014. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures eased 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $71.95 a barrel, having climbed on Tuesday to $72.83 a barrel, the highest since November 2014.
FT - Most oil majors can now cover dividends and capital expenditure at prices around $50 per barrel, meaning that, at $80, they make a healthy surplus.
EIA - The United States remained the world's top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2017, reaching a record high. The United States has been the world's top producer of natural gas since 2009, when U.S. natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and the world's top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013, when U.S. production exceeded Saudi Arabia’s. Since 2008, U.S. petroleum and natural gas production has increased by nearly 60%.
PLATTS - China became the largest contributor to global LNG consumption growth in 2017. It surpassed South Korea as the world's second largest LNG importer and its share of global LNG demand is expected to converge with that of Japan by 2030.