A Reuters survey found that OPEC countries have increased their compliance in the second month of the output-cut deal.
Oil futures fell by over 1.5% on Thursday (2 March), after Russian energy minister Alexander Novak labelled market chatter about a possible production cut extension by Opec and non-Opec producers as "premature" and U.S. inventories rose to another record high.
Despite the threat of USA production, several analysts' and fund managers expect prices to rebound from their current level, thanks to higher than expected compliance from OPEC producers. Sentiment is being torn between strong OPEC compliance with the reduction agreement both in January and February on the one hand, and a continuous rise in United States crude inventories on the other. 3.
U.S. crude oil production peaked at 9,600,000 bpd in June 2015.
But if USA output continues to increase at the current rate, OPEC will eventually be forced to reassess its production cuts and start protecting its market share again. To support this trend, Saudi Arabia has offered to reduce oil production even more if rival Iran caps its own output this year. Since then, USA crude oil production has risen ~7.2%.
Many expected Iraq to cheat on the output cut deal, and these expectations were heightened after the country reported a daily export rate of 3.51 million bpd from the Basra terminal in December - a record high.
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Of that, Russian Federation pledged to cut 300,000 bpd, with 200,000 bpd of reductions in the first quarter. On the contrary, USA crude stocks have risen 39 million barrels this year, to 518 million, since OPEC started cutting production in January.
Also, data from the EIA showed that domestic supplies of natural gas rose by 7 billion cubic feet for the week ended february 24.
Virendra Chauhan, an oil analyst at Energy Aspects in Singapore said that "The market is largely a range-bound market, although positioning is quite skewed at present which could mean that when things do pop, it could be a violent swing", Chauhan also pointed that the current weakness US Brent crude experience is an offset from the current historical US inventory statistics yesterday. As a result domestic production rose to 9 million barrels a day last week.
Oil prices extended losses Thursday, with bearish sentiment fueled by the latest increase in US crude stockpiles and production in addition to the strength of the dollar on currency markets.
The date from governments and ship-racking services also said the buyers - China, India, South Korea and Japan- imported 1.89mn barrels per day.