USA policy uncertainty, Qatar row, drags oil prices lower


United States shale production requires a higher price to be profitable compared with traditional crude oil.United States crude prices tumbled 0.6 percent to $48.57 a barrel on Friday, after losing 4.8 percent overnight, set to end the week 3.5 percent lower.

The U.S. oil producers have added rigs in their operations for a 20th consecutive week, raising concerns that U.S. shale oil producers which were able to cut their production cost dramatically over the past years are now a low-priced global competitor and would continue to undermine the OPEC agreement to cut supplies. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were back well below $50, at $48.46, down 44 cents, or 0.9 percent.

However, OPEC's decision from last week to roll over the cuts as-is until March 2018 was not seen by the market as doing "whatever it takes", as investors were looking for stronger commitment, such as deeper cuts or a longer period of extension, and oil prices plunged 5 percent following the announcement of the deal.

Wall Street looked likely to open down 0.1 percent, index futures showed, after falls on European bourses.

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Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain ended their relations with Qatar, a major exporter of liquefied and condensed natural gas, on the grounds of support for extremism, however, the country denounced that there is an intention to place it 'under political tutelage'.

With production capacity of about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), Qatar's crude output ranks as one of OPEC's smallest, but tension within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could weaken the supply deal, aimed at supporting prices.

But other analysts said these fears were exaggerated.

Oil prices across the globe were on the rise on Monday - a direct impact of the tensions in the Middle East - and an effect of the production cut by OPEC.

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Some traders, however, said worries about the impact on oil supplies from the diplomatic spat had been overblown.

The main reasons for the fuel price adjustments in June 2017 are the strengthening of the Rand against the US Dollar during the period under review and the average decrease in the prices of petroleum products in the global markets in line with the lower crude oil prices.

Crude output in the United States, which is not participating in the cuts, has jumped more than 10 percent since mid-2016 to 9.34 million bpd, close to levels of top producers Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation.

In refined products, RBOB heating oil futures remained flat at 1.494 a gallon at the NYMEX.

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