US Oil Prices Pull Back Some in Asia

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Crude oil prices rallied strongly in the previous session after a federal USA report showed strong oil production was balanced by a surge in the consumption of consumer fuels, with the expectations of a 9.3 million barrel per day thirst for gasoline on pace to be the highest level in two years. Earlier in the session, prices hit US$63.67, their highest since December 9, 2014. United States production fell 2,90,000 barrels per day to 9.5 million bpd, the EIA said, foiling expectations of USA output breaking through 10 million bpd. The February contract for light sweet crude gained $1.23 USA to settle at $62.96 USA a barrel.

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

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.

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USA shale is expected to continue to counteract OPEC production cuts this year.

The EIA also estimates that the difference between total world consumption and total world production averaged 400,000 barrels per day in 2017, marking the first year of global inventory draws since 2013.

Singapore average refinery profit margins have fallen below $6 per barrel this month, their lowest seasonal level in five years.

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USA crude production is forecast to average 10.3 million bpd in 2018, which would be the highest annual average US production, surpassing a previous record of 9.6 million bpd in 1970.

US demand growth of 150,000 bpd was estimated for 2017, slightly lower than previous expectations. At the same time, Venezuela's economic and political crisis continued to wreak havoc on its production capacity, with production falling to levels not seen since 2002. EIA expects OPEC crude oil production to increase by 0.2 million b/d in 2018 and by an additional 0.3 million b/d in 2019 as it slowly returns to pre-agreement levels.

Gulf of Mexico production is expected to average 1.7 million bpd in 2018, relatively unchanged from 2017, and then increase to 1.8 million bpd with the anticipated start of production from the Appomattox project in the Rydberg field and the Mars project in the Kaikias field, along with other projects expected to begin operations this year and next.

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The EIA is out with the latest edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, examining projections for the energy industry for the next two years. "Forecast dry natural gas production increases by an average of 2.6 Bcf/d in 2019".

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