Oil prices dip on bloated US market, mixed Saudi signals

Brent-WTI Spread Drives Energy Stocks

May West Texas Intermediate crude CLK7, -0.94% fell 53 cents, or 1%, to settle at $52.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Fuel supplies are shrinking week after week at a time refineries are stepping up their crude processing ahead of the summer driving season. The ministerial committee on monitoring of oil production limiting agreement compliance will meet in in Vienna on May with participation of Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak to evaluate implementation of the agreements within the framework of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo told TASS. Brent touched $54.76 intraday, its lowest since April 7.U.S. Market bulls have been waiting to see a decline in bloated United States crude inventories after consistent builds since the start of the year, in tandem with rising refinery capacity utilisation rates in the country starting in the second quarter.

Oil edged lower on Wednesday, after U.S. data showed a smaller-than-expected decline in overall crude inventories coupled with another rise in production, hindering OPEC's efforts to reduce a global surplus of crude.

The incessant rise of rigs has led the Energy Information Administration to upgrade its U.S. oil production forecast for 2018 from 9.73 million barrels per day (bpd) in its March report to 9.9 million bpd in its latest report.

A fall in shipments from top exporter Saudi Arabia also lent the market some support.

While compliance has been strong among OPEC countries, production cuts have lagged among other producers including Russian Federation.

Overall, WTI edged higher to the $52.50 p/b area ahead of the United States open with Brent trading back just above the $55.00 level.

The country plans to double refining capacity to as much as 10 million barrels a day within 10 years, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih has said.

The U.S. drill rig count climbed to 683 last week, the highest since April 2015 and a 13th week of gains, Baker Hughes data showed on Friday. "Production rose for an eighth week and the EIA has said we will be pumping 9.9 million barrels a day in 2018".

Demand for gasoline also dropped back a little, Pugh added.

Prices have stabilised again recently after falling by about ten percent in early March, with recent unplanned outages and rising political tension in the Middle East playing a role.

"The numbers reflect slightly more bullish sentiment in the marketplace", Schenker said.

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