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Oil running quickly toward $50 per barrel

Long-term scenarios envision a shortage of more than 4 million barrels per day.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Crude oil prices making a steady run toward $50 per barrel as signs emerge of a market pulling away from the supply side. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/ba87789421086731a02017bf6814255b/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Crude oil prices making a steady run toward $50 per barrel as signs emerge of a market pulling away from the supply side. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, April 27 (UPI) -- Oil prices are running toward $50 per barrel, up nearly 60 percent from 2016 lows, as more data surfaces to support a push away from supply side pressures.

The price for Brent crude oil was up 2 percent in early Wednesday trading to $46.68 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was up 2.1 percent to start the day in New York at $44.96 per barrel.

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Oil prices have rallied as a series of reports find balance between supply and demand is starting to return. While reporting its own production was expected to decline moving through the year, BP CEO Bob Dudley said "market fundamentals" are pointing to a market that could return to balance "by the end of the year."

Data from the American Petroleum Institute, a group that also represents the business interests of those in the U.S. energy sector, reported crude oil inventories fell by 1.1 million barrels last week. From a consumer perspective, gasoline demand in the United States is moving higher because of the break from a long winter and lower prices at the pump.

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Formal data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due out late Wednesday and any major contrast with API's data could drag on the rally's momentum.

Long-term, however, a recent report from analysis group Wood Mackenzie finds the lower levels of spending on exploration and production that came as a result of lower crude oil prices could reverse the pressure from supplies long term. Even though more than 7,000 new discoveries have been made in the last 15 years, researchers there said poor exploration results suggest the global market could see a shortfall of as much as 4.5 million barrels per day by 2035.

"Existing discoveries do of course have a key role to play in future global oil supply, but unless exploration results start to improve significantly, continued supply growth will become unsustainable," Patrick Gibson, Wood Mackenzie's director of global oil supply research, said in a statement.

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