Oil edges up towards data on reserves and production in US

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $44.70 per barrel, also little changed from their last close.

Analysts had expected a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.

Top producer Russian Federation, not an OPEC member but participating in the deal, is expected to export 61.2 million tonnes of oil via pipelines in the third quarter (around 5 million bpd), against 60.5 million tonnes in the second quarter, according to industry sources and Reuters calculations.

Oil prices wallowed near their lowest levels in seven months early on Thursday, hurt by high global inventories and doubts over OPEC's ability to implement production cuts, according to Reuters. There was also a build in gasoline inventories on the week, although there was a decline in distillate and Cushing stocks on the week.

The International Energy Agency stated that it expects oil supplies to be higher than demand in the next year, despite a rise in global consumption.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

OPEC will face the familiar dilemma of whether to defend oil prices by continuing to restrict output or defend market share by growing production again.

Despite expectations of a drop in USA crude stockpiles, fears of rising US shale production are expected to continue to weigh on OPEC and its allies' efforts to rebalance supply and demand in the market.

"There was also a sign of slowing energy demand in China, the world's second largest oil consumer, with a recent survey showing April growth in the country's services sector at its slowest in nearly a year", OPEC added.

It seems that oil inventories are particularly unpredictable as of late, with last week, the API and EIA reporting remarkably disparate figures in the amount of crude oil inventory movement-a 7.9-million-barrel discrepancy between the two that fanned the flames of an already shaky market.

Saudi Arabia's oil exports are expected to fall below 7 million barrels per day this summer, according to industry sources familiar with the matter, and Russian oil exports were seen as broadly flat in the third quarter, and yet prices continue to fall.

The oil market needs strong demand to help offset the rapid increase in supply.

BP analysts said that production outside the Middle East fell by 1.3 Mb/d, with the largest declines in the U.S. (-400,000 b/d), China (-310,000 b/d) and Nigeria (-280,000 b/d).

Benchmark U.S. crude prices have already declined by $9 per barrel or about 16 percent from their recent peak in the middle of February.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to extend that deal that began in January through March 2018, but ongoing growth in US production, along with exemptions for non-members Nigeria and Libya, have offset those cuts to some extent.

And it was being observed, "despite the very high overall conformity to the production adjustments in the first four months of 2017", OPEC added.

US drilling rig counts due later in the day on Friday could add further pressure, if it shows more were added.

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