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Oil Prices Dip, but Bullish Sentiment Persists

26 September 2017

It led to a fall in global crude oil inventories, which supported Brent crude oil prices in particular.

If Asian refiners seeking light crudes can buy at prices linked to WTI, that may be far more attractive than looking at crudes priced against Brent.

The front-month in US crude's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures was up $0.08, or 0.2%, at $50.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. At Wednesday' session, Brent and WTI were up about 16% for the third quarter - on track to their largest quarterly gain since 2004.

A surge in US shale production that spurred the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to pump at will to defend its market share exacerbated a market oversupply over the past three years, driving the biggest price crash in a generation.

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The Russian minister said ministers would also discuss monitoring exports, although he said the main focus was still on production.

Investigations showed that the price of oil may stabilise in excess of $55 per barrel in the fourth quarter, especially as many stakeholders, particularly Russia, Azerbaijan, Brunei and Sudan, have chose to support the efforts of OPEC in achieving stability.

The decline in spending coincides with rising output from wells drilled into shale rock formations in the United States that tend to reach peak production faster than traditional oil wells. "For stocks to be reduced any further, however, the oil market would have to show a deficit, so the optimism appears exaggerated". The entire Brent futures complex through June 2020 is now backwardated.

The market is increasingly focused on the demand outlook, after the International Energy Agency and OPEC both raised their forecasts for global oil consumption, analysts tell CNBC.

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"Although there was plenty of price-bullish news making headlines yesterday, undoubtedly the biggest factor was the referendum in the Kurdistan region of Iraq", analysts at Vienna-based JBC Energy said in a note. Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq that borders Turkey, which has its own Kurdish minority.

"Fear in the market has been that OPEC production will rise dramatically", said Morse.

Fund positioning in gasoline, heating oil and gasoil now looks very stretched, with the ratio of long to short positions near multi-year highs in each case.

USA crude oil climbed 3% today to $52.22/bbl, posting its highest closing level in five months, while Brent crude jumped 3.8% to $59.02/bbl, touching its highest since July 2015. "Now that prices are higher, the USA producer should continue to press production higher".

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USA crude prices have lagged behind Brent's gains amid a large oversupply exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey, which forced the closure of almost 25% of US refining capacity, Reuters reported. Despite a post hurricane surge in production the USA oil rig count fell by five rigs to 744 rigs according to Baker Hughes.