Saudi 'Mission Impossible' makes longer OPEC oil cuts inevitable

Saudi 'Mission Impossible' makes longer OPEC oil cuts inevitable

"The outlook is no less bullish", said Seth Kleinman, global head of energy strategy at Citigroup, who sees crude exceeding $60 a barrel later this year.

United States drillers added oil rigs for an eighth consecutive week, Baker Hughes said on Friday, as energy companies increased spending to take advantage of an earlier recovery in crude prices since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut output. "We will see what levels of production are".

WTI rose 1.3 percent to $49.50 a barrel as of 7:45 London on Thursday, while Brent added 1.5 percent to $52.56.

Brent and WTI were supported this week by USA inventory data that showed a surprise drop in stocks and assurances that a deal to trim nearly 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) from global markets in the first six months of the year was still on track, with the possibility of an extension still dangling.

Still, oil demand remains poised to overtake supply in the second quarter and start depleting global inventories, according to Goldman Sachs, which sees U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) topping $57 a barrel in three months.

After the lifting of the sanctions, Shell and Total each have imported two consignments of Iranian oil, each to the tune of two million barrels, he said.

USA crude inventories last week slid by 237,000 barrels to 528.2 million, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Also underpinning crude oil was data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggesting OPEC cuts should create a crude deficit in the first half of 2017.

The chart above shows how oil prices have fared since OPEC announced its supply cut past year until date.

Yet, since the Saudi-led Opec cartel agreed to cut oil production in November, the U.S. shale industry has been boosted to levels not seen since 2014.

That brought the total count to 631, the most since September 2015, underlining concerns that the ongoing rebound in US shale production could derail efforts by other major producers to rebalance global oil supply and demand.

Russian Federation trimmed its oil production by 160,000 barrels per day through the middle of this month, Novak told reporters in Moscow.

"The recovery path of US tight oil is key to rebalancing the oil market over 2017, so is the compliance of the 11 non-OPEC countries that agreed to curb output", the IEA said.

A poll of market analysts showed on Friday that OPEC will have to extend its oil output curbs beyond June as a revival in crude production outside the group, specifically in the US, may scupper its efforts to erode an overhang of unused inventory.

Meanwhile, oil producers in the USA will be nervously waiting and watching.