U.S. crude exports to Asia may shake up global oil pricing

November Brent LCOX7, +1.28%, the global benchmark, climbed 51 cents, or 0.9%, at $57.37 a barrel in London trading, having closed out Friday at its highest weekly settlement of the past eight months, up $1.24 a barrel on the week. And while OPEC and other countries that have cut production will undoubtedly take comfort from Brent near $60 a barrel, they should be wary of taking too much of the credit and certainly can't relax their output restraint.

As well as increased demand, especially from China, Turkey's threat to disrupt oil flows from Iraq's Kurdistan region, helped push up prices on Monday.

The wellhead was uncapped, and oil gushed higher overnight with Brent rising almost four percent and WTI three percent. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate Futures were trading down 0.42%, at $52 a barrel.

Crude oil input to refineries fell around 3 million barrels a day, or 17 percent, below normal in the three weeks to September 15, curtailing production of distillates and gasoline.

Kachikwu noted that even though Nigeria hit 1.802 million barrels per day in the month of August that was not enough justification for a call by some countries for Nigeria to be brought into the fold. A gathering in Vienna last week between OPEC and its allies ended with no decision on an extension or deepening of the cuts beyond the first quarter of 2018, while the potential revival of US shale production is also weighing on the outlook for prices.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and several other producers have cut production by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) since the beginning of this year, helping to lift oil prices by about 15 per cent in the past three months.

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However, analysts are skeptical about further price gains due to higher oil output from the United States.

Resurgent production from US shale oil producers, who use advanced drilling methods, has played a major role in delaying the market rebalancing. Growing revenues could weaken the OPEC's commitment to its supply deal, which many forecasters still say must be extended.

OPEC officials have said exports have a more direct impact on the worldwide supply than production.

Iran expects to maintain overall crude and condensate exports at around 2.6 million bpd for the rest of 2017, a senior official from the country's state oil company said. But Hurricane Harvey's strike on Texas last month was a game changer as flooding from the storm shut down a quarter of the USA oil refining capacity of nearly 18 million bpd, sparking huge drawdowns in fuel inventories and prompting refiners to process as much crude as they could on their return.

Geoffrey Craig, an oil futures editor at Platts, said in an emailed report the market situation is still anything but normal.

Although Nigeria is not a member of the five nation Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, it had gladly accepted the invitation of the co-chairs of the Committee and the OPEC Conference President to attend the meeting because it believes the committee is doing a good job and needs to be supported and also to clarify Nigeria's position on its crude oil production, the minister said.


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