Oil is stable amid healthy demand

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EIA's March Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts USA crude oil production to increase by 1.4 million b/d in 2018 and the Brent-WTI spread to average $3.96/b. However, supply is growing at a faster pace, which caused the inventory increase during the first quarter of 2018. In fact, the oil surplus only stood at 50 million barrels, while refined product supplies are actually in a deficit.

Libya pumped 1.02 MMbpd in February, the fourth consecutive month when its output exceeded 1 MMbpd, the IEA said. Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, lost 4.4 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.5 million-barrel draw, according to the EIA report.

Gasoline stocks fell by 6.3 million barrels last week, compared with analysts' expectations for a 1.2 million-barrel drop.

Many European nations are among the largest destinations for USA crude oil exports, including the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Italy, France, and Spain. That would be a reversal from a supply deficit in 2017 and early 2018.

The global rating agency said US shale growth should result in a production surplus in 2018, which would result in global oil production exceeding demand this year, pushing oil prices below $60 per barrel.

Declines in Iranian and Venezuelan output due to sanctions could obviate the need for the rest of the OPEC/non-OPEC coalition to continue with their cuts.

Crude oil futures were slightly higher Thursday morning as traders continued to weigh U.S. energy inventories data.

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Oil prices have firmed since Opec's November 2016 agreement to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), while non-Opec members, led by Russian Federation, agreed to cut production by 558,000 bpd.

While total crude inventories in the USA gained 5 million barrels last week, an increase had been expected as refineries head into seasonal maintenance. China surpassed the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to become the second-largest destination for USA crude oil exports in 2017.

Oil prices were broadly steady on Thursday, supported by a pickup in equity markets, but held back by evidence that supply will overtake demand this year.

Venezuela oil output is in a "death spiral", which could be worsened by additional USA sanctions, he said. The first half of the year is always a seasonally weaker time for the oil market. S. crude inventories are not rising as much as expected during the spring season now starting, implying healthy demand, and from strong China data. IEA Forecast This week the IEA released Oil 2018, its five-year market analysis and forecast.

Production rose as well, with USA output hitting 10.38 million barrels a day, a new weekly record; all-time daily output measured on a monthly basis broke a 47-year record in November.

"This U.S. shale engine is not expected to run out of steam anytime soon, " said Stephen Brennock, analyst at brokerage PVM.

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