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OPEC Faces 'Long Haul' to Deplete Swollen Oil Stocks, IEA Says

16 August 2017

"While these producers have tried to limit their oil output, U.S. shale oil continues to rise", said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at futures brokerage

- Market participants keenly awaited the latest weekly data from the Energy Information Administration on USA stocks and production, due later on Wednesday. However, WTI crude oil prices once again failed to sustain above the $50 per barrel levels. EIA data Wednesday may show USA crude inventories declined again last week, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Oil prices tumbled more than 2.5 percent on Monday in volatile trade as the dollar strength and the demand concerns in China, the world's second-largest oil user, weighed on sentiment.

USA crude inventories fell by 9.2 million barrels in the week to August 11 to 469.2 million, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday.

Markets were expecting a draw of around 3.5 million barrels for the week, although with inevitable caution given volatile API data over the past 2 months.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude September contract eased 0.04% to $48.80 a barrel.

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"The market took this as a mildly bullish report", said William O'Loughlin, investment analyst at Rivkin Securities.

Neil Atkinson, head of the agency's oil markets and industry division, told Bloomberg, "If they wish to achieve the reduction of oil stocks down to the five-year average, they're going to have to dig in for the long haul", and he added that any increase in price they may achieve will bolster US shale production and exacerbate the glut.

Sarah Emerson, energy principal at ESAI, remarked, "If OPEC wants to keep oil prices in the $50s and hit $60, the organization will have to keep a lid on supply for several more years". Worse still, this momentum is not expected to change into the first quarter of 2018 when the current OPEC deal where oil output will be cut by 1.8m bpd will have run out.

On a recent report dated yesterday, the United States' Energy Information Administration said that they are going to see an increase of 117,000 barrels a day in September to a total of 6.149 million barrels a day.

OPEC output rose by 173,000 bpd a day in July to nearly 32.9 m barrels, its highest level since the production agreement came into force in January. Flynn also noted that "shale producers will continue to struggle" as oil stays below $50 a barrel. The compliance outside the OPEC is even worse at just 67 percent.

OPEC Faces 'Long Haul' to Deplete Swollen Oil Stocks, IEA Says