OPEC oil cut adherence rises in Dec as Venezuela output slides

WTI Crude Oil

Analysis by research firm Rystad Energy has found surging shale oil output could ramp up USA crude production by 10% this year, bringing the country's total oil output to nearly 11 million barrels per day. According to analysts, the $60-plus WTI price isn't sustainable in the near term, barring geopolitical risks that could push prices up.

Oil traded near the highest in three years as optimism on the global economy, cold weather and political unrest bolstered a market that's finally shaking off a prolonged surplus.

As the shale fracking increased output in the USA over the last few years, Saudi Arabia responded by significantly increasing output and flooding the market with oil, starting in 2015.

Balancing the trend towards a tighter market is increased United States production, where the OPEC-led effort to drive up the price of oil is encouraging more shale oil output.

Oil market observers will be looking ahead to an EIA report January 9 outlining the agency's outlook for 2019 and the implications for US crude production.

Opec, supported by Russian Federation and other non-members, began to hammer out a deal to cut supplies again in 2016, aiming to lift prices by removing a glut built up in the previous two years.

The latest data of 2017 showed that Russian Federation oil output increased 10.98 million bpd as an average, compared to 10.96 million bpd in 2016, and 10.72 million bpd in 2015. "If we don't see that pattern continue then, we could see a significant correction", McGillian noted. The cuts began a year ago, and the producers have chose to extend the agreement through the end of 2018.

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"In our view, if the brent price averages around $60/bbl in FY18, inflationary pressure will rise, but will still be manageable".

The oil price rally at the end of 2017 was primarily supported by multiple but temporary supply disruptions, while the latest leg up has been driven by protests across Iran, Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank, said on Tuesday.

Oil prices fell Friday as some investors cashed in on the week's strong gains and others mulled ambiguous US inventory data.

Gasoline stocks in the US are expected to grow by 2 million barrels a week, distillates - by 1.3 million barrels.

Brent for March settlement advanced 23 cents to end the session $68.07 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the highest since December 2014.

Even when prices were weak, most Opec members could still enjoy handsome margins as their production costs - as low as $10-15 a barrel in Saudi Arabia - are among the world's lowest. The new year has started with protests and instability in Iran.

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