United States crude stockpiles jump 9.5 MMBbls

Oil prices expected to creep higher to $60 - analysts

Initial estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and OPEC itself show that the cartel's early compliance to cuts is very high: more than 90 percent. Bearish traders are encouraged by signs of renewed rise in oil production in the US.

Although countries have enacted steep cuts, the data shows that should Opec production across all members continue at current levels it will exceed demand for the group's crude through the first half of the year.

Because of the conflicting price drivers of Opec's cuts and rising United States inventories and production, analysts said that prices were largely moving sideways.

Oil prices slid below 53 levels in Asia on Wednesday ahead of the market shrugging off a much larger than expected build in USA inventories reported by an industry group.

The agreement, inked on November 30, requires 10 of OPEC's 14 members to cut a combined 1.256 million barrels per day (b/d) of output.

Nigeria's problems with production are linked to attacks on installations by militants in the Niger Delta region.

Bears continue to point to increased U.S. oil rig activity, and uncertainty surrounding policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, said Stuart Ive, a private client advisor at OM Financial.

OPEC is an organization of countries formed in 1961 to agree on a common policy for the production and sale of petroleum products. But rising production from other sources could put a cap on oil prices. Benchmark prices rose about 20 percent over the same period. Some producers, including Saudi Arabia, cut supply by more than required.

The bulk of Iraq's oil is exported via the southern terminals.

That would be a slight decline from January, when southern exports fell to 3.28 million bpd, two oil executives told Reuters.

Platts Analytics forecasts Permian production could grow by 500,000 b/d by the end of the year, as long as prices remain above $50/b. "There is potential for another recession or serious economic crisis perhaps triggered by protectionism, trade wars, Trump-led policies in the US affect China", he said.

Saudi Arabia has been cutting more than it initially promised.

OPEC members agreed to a production cut late previous year, after months of talks between the countries. For many observers, there is only one question: when OPEC members - or non-OPEC producers for that matter - will start cheating and who will start first.

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