Oil prices drift lower on production response to 2018 rally

Markets pulled out of steep declines overnight after a militant group in OPEC-member Nigeria warned of new attacks in a climate of heightened geopolitical risk.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Jan. 17, 2018 at 10:06 AM
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Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Oil prices were pulling back to even Wednesday after recent declines amid renewed threats for OPEC member Nigeria, but production trends are balancing the run.

The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, closed above $70 per barrel on Monday for the first time since December 2014. Global economic momentum, surging demand and an increasingly tense geopolitical stage all led to a historic rally for crude oil prices in the opening sessions of 2018.

Profit taking and production expectations, largely from the United States, pulled Brent prices closer to $68 per barrel on Tuesday. The trend continued overnight amid mounting concerns that the rally would spark a rush toward capitalization from major oil producers.

An emailed market report from UBS said that, after a year of a stifled market, expect to see a supply-side response to the steady gains in crude oil prices.

"Solid demand growth for energy, amid an above-trend global economy, may not prevent prices from sliding over the next six to 12 months," the report read. "Supply growth should outpace demand growth over the course of the year across all energy commodities."

Traders are watching the shrinking gap between supply and demand closely. An oversupplied market pushed crude oil prices below $30 per barrel in early 2016, though an effort to balance the market by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries with coordinated production cuts has set something of a floor under the price of oil.

OPEC's effort, however, could be undermined by production gains in U.S. oil production. With another 8 million barrels per day expected between 2010 and 2025, the International Energy Agency said the U.S. oil patch was expanding at a historic pace.

Brent was down 0.27 percent at 9:10 a.m. EST to $68.96 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was down 0.14 percent to $63.64 per barrel.

Oil prices recovered some ground lost overnight after the long-idled Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group in OPEC member Nigeria, said it was committed to more attacks. The NDA said it was now targeting offshore installations, noting it was tracking a floating production platform of Total's about 80 miles offshore.

On the economy, a report from the World Economic Forum said momentum was strong, but geopolitical risk could spoil the benefits. In Europe, statistics show mixed results. Inflation slowed from 1.5 percent in November to 1.4 percent. A year ago, the rate of inflation in the euro area in December was 1.1 percent.

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