OPEC keeps U.S. shale guessing on cuts -- but the answer is clear

Oil producers nervously watch industry trends

Oil supply deficit in first half likely despite rising stocks

"An extension is needed to balance the market", an OPEC delegate said. Both reported a modest decline in United States commercial crude inventories for the week ended March 10, after weeks of builds. Crude oil stocks had increased for nine consecutive weeks, resulting in prices declining to $47 from a high of $54 just two weeks earlier.

Brent Crude Oil Spot Price, data by YCharts.

What's helping prices stay in a holding pattern?

"At 32.3 million bpd, the call on OPEC crude during the first quarter of 2017 is higher than average output of 31.9 million bpd so far this year, which could lead to a draw in global inventories", the IEA said, adding that it was not clear if the group will extend its supply agreement.

Shale oil seems to be picking up production, taking its cue from the more bearish crude oil prices despite short-term bounces, supply cuts and improved demand estimates. International June Brent Crude Oil closed at $51.79, down $0.16 or -0.31%.

"We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation", British envoy to the EU Tim Barrow said in a statement. There are some reports that compliance is lower, but Saudi Arabia has signalled it will do whatever it takes to enhance the credibility of the agreement and has cut its production more than required. "The other country not keeping its word is Iraq". Producers added more oil rigs to US fields, extending a drilling surge into a 10th month, Baker Hughes Inc. said on Friday.

The prospect of a still-oversupplied market has prompted oil bulls to flee. Gazprom Neft increased oil production by 43% to 163,400 tonnes [1.2 mln barrels per day]. As reports about the strong compliance rates began to filter out in early 2017, prices moved even higher.

With Baker Hughes data still a factor in trading, the price for Brent crude oil was down 1.3 percent from Friday's close to $51.09 per barrel about a half hour before the start of trading in NY. It later edged back with the pound falling 0.36% to $1.2348 against the greenback as the government confirmed prime minister Theresa May would trigger article 50 and the formal start of European Union withdrawal talks at the end of the month.

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