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Oil dips after 3-year high; Opec, Russia cuts seen to support market

Brent crude futures were at $69.18 a barrel, 8 cents, or 0.1 per cent, below their last close

Reuters  |  Singapore 

prices eased on Friday after hitting their highest levels since December 2014 the previous day.

Despite the dip, analysts said market fundamentals going into 2018 were strong due to ongoing production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and that coincide with healthy demand growth.

US Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.58 a barrel at 0112 GMT – 22 cents, or 0.3 per cent, below their last settlement.

WTI the day before hit its strongest since late 2014 at $64.77 a barrel.

Brent crude futures were at $69.18 a barrel, 8 cents, or 0.1 per cent, below their last close. Brent also marked a December-2014 high the previous day, at $70.05 a barrel.

“OPEC has acted successfully to reduce the inventory overhang and demand growth remains robust in the short term,” said Sanjeev Bahl, at in a 2018 outlook.

The production cuts started in January last year and are set to last through 2018.

“There is potential for prices to move higher as inventories normalise,” Bahl said.

US commercial crude inventories fell almost 5 million barrels in the week to Jan. 5, to 419.5 million barrels.

That’s slightly below the five-year average of just over 420 million barrels.

Fuel price hedging company Risk Management said in its 2018 outlook that “the likelihood of elevated prices this year seems imminent”, largely due to the ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and as well as political risk especially in Iran, and

Risk Management said this was despite US production , currently at 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd), likely breaking through 10 million bpd.

Another factor that may hamper crude prices would be a drop-off in orders from refineries.

In Asia, average refinery profit margins have fallen below $6 per barrel this month, their lowest seasonal level in five years.

As a result, some refiners have already scaled back their output, reducing demand for feedstock crude.

Taking into account price supportive and pressuring factors, a market survey of over 1,000 conducted by in January showed crude price expectations clustered in a range of $60-$70 per barrel for 2018.

First Published: Sat, January 13 2018. 02:00 IST

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