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Supply discipline and demand to prop up oil prices in 2018

01 January 2018

Oil prices, which hit 2-1/2 year highs this week, have rallied by more than 30 per cent since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers agreed to limit production from January 2017. Brent crude futures-the worldwide benchmark-were also up, rising 45 cents or 0.7% to $66.61 a barrel, CNBC reported.

Brent broke through $67 earlier this week for the first time since May 2015.The price rises were driven by a surprise drop in USA oil production, which last week dipped to 9.754 million barrels per day (bpd), down from 9.789 million bpd the previous week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released late on Thursday.

Oil markets have tightened after a year of production cuts led by Middle East-dominated Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian Federation.

Kim Kwangrae, a commodities analyst at Samsung Futures Inc. High oil prices benefit funds like the Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE) and Guggenheim S&P Equal Weight Energy (RYE).

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"The tug-of-war between OPEC and the USA will continue to pressure oil from trading above $60 a barrel in 2018", said Kim Kwangrae, a Seoul-based commodities analyst at Samsung Futures Inc.

Specifically, slightly more than half the survey's respondents expect the rig count to continue to climb six months from now, but almost all said oil above $60 will be needed for a substantial increase.

Federal Reserve Bank insists oil must exceed $60 for a boost in USA drilling.

In the most recent week, U.S. production dipped modestly to 9.75 million bpd from 9.79 mln bpd the previous week. The US expects production to top 10 million barrels a day in the coming year. Inventories excluding the nation's strategic reserve have declined more than 11% in the a year ago.

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Strong OPEC compliance with the supply pact should lend support to prices, analysts said.

There are also expectations in the market that OPEC's next meeting on November 30 will agree to extend cuts beyond the current expiry date in March 2018.

Prices also continue to be helped by pipeline outages in Libya and the North Sea, although both issues could be resolved early next year.

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Supply discipline and demand to prop up oil prices in 2018