Crude oil falls as September OPEC output rises

Tokyo, Oct 2:  

Oil prices fell on Monday, pausing for breath after posting gains of as much as 20 per cent in the third quarter, after a survey pointed to a slight increase in OPEC production in September.

US crude was down 13 cents or 0.3 per cent at $51.54 a barrel at 0346 GMT. The US benchmark had on Friday posted its strongest quarterly gain since the second quarter of 2016 and the longest streak of weekly gains since January.

Global benchmark Brent crude for December delivery was down 22 cents or 0.4 per cent at $56.57 a barrel. On Friday, Brent for November delivery had closed 13 cents higher at $57.54 a barrel, notching up a third-quarter gain of around 20 per cent, the biggest gain in five quarters. It was the biggest third-quarter increase since 2004.

The contract reached its highest in more than two years early last week, and posted its fifth consecutive weekly gain. It was Brent’s longest weekly bull run since June 2016.

The price gains have been supported by anticipated demand from US refiners resuming operations after shutdowns due to Hurricane Harvey, but a quick resumption of shale production could put a dampener on prices.

“US production should be soft over August and September, due to Hurricane-related shut-ins but should rebound” in the fourth quarter, Barclays Research said in a note.

Oil output from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also rose last month, gaining by 50,000 barrels per day (bpd), a Reuters survey found.

Iraqi exports increased and production edged higher in Libya, one of the OPEC producers exempt from a deal to curb output and support prices.

West Asian oil producers are concerned the recent price rise will only stir US shale producers into more drilling and push prices lower again.

US energy companies added oil rigs for the first week in seven after a 14-month drilling recovery stalled in August, energy services firm Baker Hughes had said on Friday.

Drillers added six oil rigs in the week to September 29, bringing the total count up to 750. Hedge funds and other money managers had raised their net long positions in US crude futures and options in the week to September 26, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) had reported on Friday.

Managed money net long positions rose 43,496 contracts to 251,788 contracts, the most since the week of August 22, the CFTC said.

(This article was published on October 2, 2017)

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