OPEC, Non-Cartel Nations May Extend Oil Cut Another 6 Months

US Crude Oil Why $50 Looks Difficult This Week

Oil prices rose as much as 2 percent on Tuesday after a severe disruption to Libyan oil supplies and as officials suggested OPEC and other producing countries could extend an output-cuts deal to the end of the year. But the committee in its final statement removed a section in the draft that said it recommended a six-month extension.

Oil experts say delays to make such a move, however, will likely bring oil prices further down. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 84c, or 1.8%, to $48.57 a barrel.

The committee, formed by OPEC and non-OPEC members to oversee compliance with the deal to reduce output reached previous year, also studied the possibility of extending the cuts for another six-month period.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in November agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January 1, initially for a period of six months.

"UAE production cut for March and April will be more than 139,000 bpd due to the maintenance activities, which means more than 100 per cent compliance", Al Mazroui said. Meanwhile, the Brent Crude Oil Complex at the ICE Europe Exchange strengthened 0.31 percent to US$51.08 per barrel at 07:11 Western Indonesian Time.

However, the price gain has encouraged U.S. shale oil producers, which are not part of the pact, to boost output.

"We now forecast USA crude oil production to reach a multi-decade high by December, within sights of the all-time high reached in 1970", Barclays bank said in a note to clients.

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Yet OPEC argued that with the end of the refinery maintenance season and the recent slowdown in the United States stock-build, as well as the reduction in floating storage, there remained support for its efforts to control output and support prices.

The Joint OPEC/non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting yesterday may have something to do with it.

The OPEC-led strategy to rebalance oil markets is not without controversy, however.

What the crude import numbers from China and India for the first two months show is that by and large the top producers seem reluctant to cut supplies to major Asian buyers, and that even if they do, other producers seem willing to step into the breach.

Iraq expressed a willingness to support extending the cuts but only if OPEC and others agree, Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi told reporters. "Any decisions taken unanimously by members of OPEC ..." WTI peaked in late February at $54.48 per barrel, though those taking part in the bank's survey said they expected the year to end at around $53 per barrel.

In fact, oil prices are now back near $50/barrel, exactly where they were after OPEC and non-OPEC signed a landmark deal to cut production by around 1.8 million b/d.

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