Oil prices sit at three-year highs as march to $70 slows

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Brent crude futures traded 55 cents lower at $68.71 a barrel at 1253 GMT. On November 31, 2016, the oil cartel Opec and non-Opec countries committed to cut down supplies by 1.8 million barrels a day till the end of 2018.

The price for Brent crude oil was down 0.35 percent at 9:19 a.m. EST to $69.02 per barrel. However, the high compliance rate in the latest data includes a sizeable drop in Venezuela's production level of more than 0.2 MMBPD in 2017.

Crude oil prices dipped into negative territory on Friday on signs Washington would indeed extend waivers that let Iranian oil flow on the global market.

Relatively weak Chinese December oil data weighed on prices, traders and analysts said. As a result, pipeline capacity constraints should not be a major limiting factor in starting new production, he said.

The market was bolstered modestly by data showing a sharp decline in US production last week.

“EIA forecasts USA crude oil production to grow by 980,000 barrels per day in 2018, and we expect most of that growth to come from tight rock formations in Texas and North Dakota, ” he said.

In its previous forecast, issued a month ago, the EIA saw production growth of 780,000 b/d in 2018.

US crude inventories fell 4.9 million barrels last week, more than the 3.9-million decline forecast, but bigger-than-expected builds in gasoline and fuel stocks offset that drawdown, the Energy Information Administration reported.

US output will continue to rise in 2019, surpassing 11 million bpd by the end of that year, the EIA report said.

USA production growth is estimated at 1.5 million bpd in 2018 and 1 million bpd in 2019, with Canada and Brazil expected to contribute combined growth in both years of some 400,000 bpd. On Jan. 9, the World Bank increased its global economic growth estimates for 2018 to 3.1 percent after growth in 2017 was stronger than expected. Demand is expected to climb an additional 340,000 bpd in 2019 to 20.65 million bpd, the agency said. "We believe the rally is likely to continue till March for certain until the winter demand subsides and clarity is reached on the production plans in the US", Icra said in a note. In 2019, crude oil production is forecast to rise to an average of 10.8 million b/d.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently unveiled its Short-Term Energy Outlook, which is forecasting the price of crude oil to rise about 13 percent or $7/barrel by 2019. "Forecast dry natural gas production increases by an average of 2.6 Bcf/d in 2019". EIA said if the 6.9 bcf increase is achieved in 2018, it would be the highest on record.

The Energy Information Admin is out with its US inventories report at 10:30 am ET.

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