Supply pact helps keep OPEC crude production steady

Supply pact helps keep OPEC crude production steady

Traders and market watchers for much of the week said they expected U.S. President Donald Trump to go against the principles of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and not extend waivers to Iran.

Crude oil prices continued to soar Wednesday, as industry data showed another surprisingly large drawdown in USA oil inventories.

Brent crude futures settled at US$69.20 a barrel, up 38 cents. The global supply of oil exceeded demand by as many as 2 million barrels per day and inventories swelled.

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In a short-term market report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said it expects total U.S. crude oil production to increase by nearly 1 million barrels per day this year and easily break all-time records with an expected average output above 10 million barrels per day. The February contract for light sweet crude gained $1.23 USA to settle at $62.96 USA a barrel. EIA's latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) from earlier this week estimated that US crude oil production averaged 9.3 million bpd in the whole of 2017, and 9.9 million bpd in December alone. China's crude imports in December fell 9 percent month-on-month to 33.7 million tonnes, or 7.97 million bpd, customs data showed.

US crude stockpiles dropped to 419.5 million barrels last week, the lowest level since August 2015, according to the Energy Information Administration.

"The only relief in the foreseeable future could be if United States production picks up even more than its current level". These levels of USA crude oil output are expected to continue increasing in 2019 to an average of 10.8 million b/d. At the same time, Venezuela's economic and political crisis continued to wreak havoc on its production capacity, with production falling to levels not seen since 2002.

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In the Bakken production is expected to average 1.2 million bpd this year and 1.3 million bpd in 2019, up from 1.1 million bpd in 2017.

US production growth is estimated at 1.5 million bpd in 2018 and 1 million bpd in 2019, with Canada and Brazil expected to contribute combined growth in both years of some 400,000 bpd. The agency increased its demand estimates for 2018 to 470,000 bpd from 410,000 bpd. The EIA says it will account for two thirds, or 800,000 b/d of the 1.2 mb/d of oil production growth expected between December 2017 to December 2019.

Global consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels grew by 1.4 million b/d in 2017, reaching an average of 98.4 million b/d for the year. Since mid-July, Saudi, the largest producer pledged to lower crude oil exports.

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The Energy Information Admin is out with its USA inventories report at 10:30 am ET. EIAs January Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts Brent to average $60/b in 2018 and $61/b in 2019.

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