OIL PRICE: NOT ABOVE $58
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, OILPRICE - Brent oil eased on Wednesday following a report of a possible increase in Nigerian exports, but an unexpected drop in U.S. crude inventories helped keep the price within sight of this week's 26-month highs.
Turkey's repeated threat to cut oil exports from the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq pushed the price close to $60 a barrel on Monday for the first time since June 2015.
Brent November crude futures were down 14 cents at $58.30 a barrel at 0832 GMT, while U.S. crude for November delivery edged up 11 cents to $51.99.
Traders and analysts said a report from pricing agency Platts that a force majeure on exports of Bonny Light crude, scheduled to be 161,000 barrels per day (bpd) this month, could be lifted "very soon" was behind the loss in Brent.
However, Brent is set for a 22 percent gain in the third quarter of this year, its largest rise in the period between July and September since 2004, thanks in part to coordinated output cuts.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 11 rival producers, including Russia, have committed to output cuts of 1.8 million bpd between January 2017 and March 2018 to help global supply align with demand.
Brent futures are commanding their highest premium over U.S. crude in more than two years, partly because of the quick production response by U.S. shale producers to any uptick in price.
"There's pretty strong upward momentum at the moment," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, referring to a better-than-expected near-term outlook for the supply balance.
U.S. crude stocks fell by 761,000 barrels last week as refineries boosted production, while gasoline inventories increased, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday, in contrast with market expectations.
U.S. crude inventories were forecast to rise for a fourth straight week, a Reuters poll had shown.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release official inventory data at 10:30 a.m. EDT.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday repeated a threat to cut off the pipeline that carries 500,000-600,000 bpd of crude from northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan in retaliation for an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.
"All the ingredients are now there for a flare-up in regional tensions with Iran also weighing in on the matter," PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga said.
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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.