OIL PRICES FALL TO LOWEST LEVEL IN 5 MONTHS AS LIBYA OUTPUT GAINS OUTWEIGH OPEC, RUSSIA CUTS

OPEC logo is pictured ahead of an informal meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Algiers, Algeria September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo

NEW YORK – Brent crude oil prices fell on Tuesday to its lowest level in over five months, erasing all of the gains since OPEC agreed to cut production at the end of November, after breaking through a key technical support level.

The market was already trading lower prior to the technical selloff on reports of rising output in the United States, Canada and Libya and declining compliance by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with the deal to cut output during the first half of this year.

Brent futures fell $1.06, or 2.1 percent, to settle at $50.46 a barrel, the lowest close since Nov. 29 – the day before OPEC agreed to cut supply.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell $1.18, or 2.4 percent, to $47.66 a barrel, its lowest close since March 21.

The sharp technical decline came after U.S. futures fell below last week’s low of $48.20 a barrel, which was their lowest since late March.

In the five minutes after prices fell below that key technical level, over 50,000 U.S. contracts traded, representing about 10 percent of total trade at that time on Tuesday.

“The market was already down on concerns about rising Libyan and U.S. production and a Reuters report showing lower compliance to the OPEC production cut agreement,” said Phil Flynn, senior energy analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Oil prices pared losses briefly in aftermarket trading after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that U.S. crude stocks fell 4.2 million barrels last week, with Cushing, Oklahoma, inventories drawing by 215,000 barrels. The U.S. government will release its inventory data on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. (1430 GMT).

OPEC’s compliance with the output cuts fell to 90 percent in April from a revised 92 percent in March, according to a Reuters survey. Earlier, the survey showed compliance in March was 95 percent.

OPEC and other producers, including Russia, plan to meet on May 25 and are widely expected to keep output limits for the rest of the year.

OPEC oil output fell for a fourth straight month in April, a Reuters survey showed, dropping to 31.97 million bpd as Nigeria and Libya pumped less crude.

Libya’s National Oil Co, however, said on Monday that production had risen above 760,000 bpd to its highest since December 2014, and it plans to keep boosting production.

BP Plc <BP.L> Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary told Reuters that oil inventories would keep falling this year.

“If the OPEC cuts get rolled into the second half of the year, that will underpin oil prices,” Gilvary said. “We are managing things around $50-$55 a barrel. That’s probably the range we would expect for the rest of the year.”- Reuters

Earlier report

Oil price dips as US, Libya output gains outweigh OPEC, Russia cuts

NEW YORK – Oil prices dipped on Tuesday as higher output in the United States, Canada and Libya outweighed lower production by Russia and major OPEC exporters ahead of the release of U.S. data expected to show a fourth consecutive decline in crude stocks.

Benchmark Brent futures were down 40 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $51.12 a barrel by 12:22 p.m. EDT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 44 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $48.40 per barrel.

That kept both U.S. and Brent futures in technically oversold territory on most days since late April. WTI was trading at its lowest since April 27.

“We’ve got more output from Libya and the United States and there is no certainty OPEC will keep production cuts in place at their meeting in May,” said Phil Davis, managing partner at PSW Investments in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

“Until OPEC removes the fear that they might not extend their production cuts, it will be hard for oil to get a bid,” Davis said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers plan to meet on May 25 and are widely expected to keep output limits for the rest of the year.

Last year, OPEC and other producers including Russia agreed to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first half of 2017 to try to reduce a global glut.

Russian oil production fell slightly last month to 11 million bpd, almost hitting its output target under the deal with OPEC, Energy Ministry data showed on Tuesday.

OPEC oil output fell for a fourth straight month in April, a Reuters survey showed on Tuesday, dropping to 31.97 million bpd as Nigeria and Libya pumped less crude.

Libya’s National Oil Co, however, said on Monday that production had risen above 760,000 bpd to its highest since December 2014, and it plans to keep boosting production.

In addition, U.S. crude output <C-OUT-T-EIA> is at its highest since August 2015, while the Syncrude Canada oil sands project has started shipping crude from its Mildred Lake upgrader again after cutting production due to a fire in March. [RIG/U]

BP Plc <BP.L> Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary told Reuters on Tuesday that oil inventories would keep falling this year.

“If the OPEC cuts get rolled into the second half of the year, that will underpin oil prices,” Gilvary said. “We are managing things around $50-$55 a barrel. That’s probably the range we would expect for the rest of the year.”

Analysts forecast U.S. crude inventories fell about 2.2 million barrels last week, according to a Reuters poll, making a fourth straight week of declines from a record high reached at the end of March. Stocks, however, are still seen about 10 percent above year-end levels.

The American Petroleum Institute will release inventory data at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. – Reuters

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