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OPEC members not keen on Brent prices above $60

13 January 2018

The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.70 to March WTI.

Oil bulls, however, "might have taken heart" because the EIA "does not foresee an increase in global stocks assuming some kind of OPEC discipline", according to Tamas Varga, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd.

Oil prices have risen above Dollars 70 per barrel for the first time since 2014 as investors bet supply cuts led by OPEC will dominate the market this year.

That's even with a 2.4% rise in global demand this year and 1.7% in 2019, according to the EIA.

"Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank. thinks the oil market is overheating: "$70 is too much. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices averaged $51/b in 2017, up $7/b from the 2016 average, and ended the year $6/b higher than at the end of 2016.

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"Oil prices are finely balanced in today's trading session".

Despite the prospect of flat crude oil prices into the future, EIA forecasts total U.S. crude oil production will increase to an average of 10.3 million b/d in 2018, up 1.0 million b/d from 2017.

The benchmark crude oil used to set prices for about half the world's oil topped $70 a barrel in London on Thursday for the first time since December 2014.

In its previous forecast, issued a month ago, the EIA saw production growth of 780,000 b/d in 2018. "As per the International Energy Agency's latest data USA production has been averaging 9.6 million barrels per day", the report said.

"Also, the US tight oil sector continues to be dynamic, and quickly evolving trends in this sector could affect both current crude oil prices and expectations for future prices", according to STEO.

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Oil prices have been steadily rising since the major OPEC group of oil-producing nations, along with Russian Federation, agreed last autumn to maintain production cuts - credited with lifting prices past year as they intended. Moving that crude oil from the United States to Asia costs approximately $0.50/b more than to ship Brent from the North Sea to Asia. In the meantime, data shows continued strong demand for oil, while the International Energy Administration has increased its forecast for oil demand in 2018 by 100,000 barrels.

During the last quarter of 2017, most oil prices have started its path to higher and more stable oil prices touching near the $60 level and breaking out a number of times before being offset by the sudden rise in crude inventories from the United States.

On Tuesday, the EIA boosted output expectations, saying it now sees overall production at record highs, surpassing 11 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2019.

It was the bigger than expected declines in U.S. oil inventories, which is the longest stretch of falling inventories during winter in a decade, that is supporting the oil price.

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OPEC members not keen on Brent prices above $60