OPEC's 'whatever-it-takes' pledge may exact a high price

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OPEC ministers meet in Vienna on May 25 to decide production policy for the next six months and are expected to prolong their agreement to limit production, perhaps by up to nine months. "Unfortunately for OPEC, it takes US shale oil producers four quarters to respond to higher crude oil prices on the screen", the note said.

Brent for July settlement added 5 cents to $50.89/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. If the cuts are extended under the current arrangement, as suggested by Saudi Arabia's al-Falih at a press briefing in Beijing, Libya and Nigeria could effectively sabotage the efforts of the remaining 11 OPEC peers, in addition to endangering cohesion and compliance within the OPEC and non-OPEC blocs. "The market will also be looking at export cuts and not just production cuts, which is what is required to re-balance the market".

Recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that nationwide stocks started draining in April this year - the first decrease for that month since 1999.

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U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was down 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $48.91.

Both crude oil benchmarks rose on Wednesday after news of a drawdown in us crude inventories and a dip in USA output.

"One of the biggest difficulties facing the cartel, however, is that there is a lag between output cuts and inventory changes", Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.

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OPEC and other non-OPEC nations - most notably Russian Federation - are now widely expected to extend production cuts for another nine months, through March 2018.

"Oil markets...[are] never exactly balanced", but for now, the market is "moving from an oversupply situation to some sort of balance", he said-and a six-month extension to the output-cut deal will feed a drawdown in global supplies. We could revise our price view higher should production costs begin to pick up at a faster rate than producers can improve efficiency. Overall production from non-OPEC members, including about a dozen that are party to the multilateral production arrangement, is expected to grow by 600,000 barrels per day this year.

This may also feed more oil investment in the US, and domestic production is likely to respond to that, he said.

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