Oil stays near $70 highs, but analysts warn of red flags

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The oil price gains have also increased expectations of inflation and rate rises this year, which is the primary cause of the US bond sell-off, according to Rabobank.

EIA's January Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts Brent crude oil to average Dollars 60 per barrel (b) in 2018 and USD 61 per barrel in 2019, slightly higher than the $54/b average in 2017. This was the biggest increase since June 2017. And they added the surplus in crude is expected "to widen to levels that will overwhelm the market", JBC said in a note.

While supply disruptions and declining U.S. and global oil inventories have pushed oil prices up in recent weeks and months, the immediate factors that could additionally drive oil prices up are U.S. President Donald Trump's imminent decision on Iran sanctions, and Venezuela teetering on the brink of collapse, Hansen says.

But during the same conference, Suhail al-Mazroui, energy minister for the UAE, stated that this week's crude gains are backed by strong demand growth and a drop in oversupply thanks to OPEC, and he suggested that the market needs breathing room before any plans to alter course are considered.

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USA oil stocks fell more than expected, continuing a steady drawdown of supplies in the world's largest oil consumer, though stocks of distillates and gasoline rose on heavy refining activity driven in part by year-end adjustments. That's not especially surprising given the vagaries of the crude oil market. Moving that crude oil from the United States to Asia costs approximately $0.50/b more than to ship Brent from the North Sea to Asia. US production is now forecast to rise to 10 million barrels a day by next month, fully four months faster than previously expected. Add to that the shutdown of a 0.4 mbd pipeline in the North Sea and a reduction of 0.29 mbd in U.S. crude oil production in the last few days of 2017 and first week of 2018.

The agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and a group of non-OPEC producers led by Russian Federation reached in late 2016, to cut 1.8 million barrels of crude daily (MMBPD), is slated to run through the end of 2018.

Ministers from leading OPEC and non-OPEC producers will discuss the possibility of a smooth exit from a global deal to cut oil output next week, Russia's energy minister said on Friday.

Oil is extending a two-year rebound as Opec and its allies reduce supply to drain a global glut.

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The news about the increase in the oil rigs count should be a concern for the bulls this week.

Forecasting the oil market has always been fraught with uncertainties and even more so these days. USA crude oil production is forecast to average 10.3 million b/d in 2018, marking the highest annual average production in US history, surpassing the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970.

Global consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels grew by 1.4 million b/d in 2017, reaching an average of 98.4 million b/d for the year.

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