Is OPEC Underestimating US Shale?

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The price of a barrel of Brent crude, the worldwide benchmark contract, rose by 2 per cent to $73.12, up more than $1.54, after figures from the US Energy Information Administration showed an unexpectedly big fall in American stockpiles of oil.

Still, the cartel and Kremlin want to drive prices even higher and offset the U.S. shale oil boom, so they are likely to extend the supply quota plan beyond this year. Gasoline and distillate stocks also fell, and refinery usage has been at highs not seen for this time of year in 13 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled at $73.48 a barrel, up $1.90, or 2.7 percent.

"Add a drop in weekly USA oil reserves to the mix and the only way for crude prices is up".

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has not been secret about its desire to boost the price of oil by cutting production.

West Texas Intermediate rose about 1% to $69.56 at session highs around 7 a.m. ET.

Over the past four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied averaged 9.4 million barrels per day, up by 0.7 percent from the same period previous year.

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The deal, which runs through the end of this year, has almost shrunk global oil stockpiles to their five-year average.

Industry sources said a desired crude price of 80 or even 100 was circulated by senior Saudi officials in closed-door briefings in recent weeks.

“We continue to see extremely strong compliance” by OPEC nations to self-imposed supply limits, said Nick Holmes, an analyst at Tortoise in Leawood, Kansas, which manages $16 billion in energy-related assets.

OPEC has since reversed course, reaching a deal with Russian Federation and other oil producers to cut output by 1.8 million barrels a day (MMBPD) starting in January 2017.

WTI settled at $66.52 on Tuesday and opened at $66.68 Wednesday morning.

The cartel and its partners will meet in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, tomorrow, and Opec will meet on 22 June to review the cuts. For the same period, analysts expected crude inventories to increase by 625,000 barrels and gasoline inventories to drop by 1.9 million barrels.

Also supporting prices is an expectation that the United States will re-introduce sanctions against OPEC-member Iran, which could result in further supply reductions from the Middle East.