OPEC Keeps Oil Market Guessing Over Further Action on Cuts

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US crude stocks rose last week and refineries raised output, while gasoline stocks and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Oil prices rose by 1 percent on Wednesday morning and were set for the biggest third-quarter gain since 2004, as investors weighed the renewed talk of possible deeper OPEC cuts, along with the results of this week's EIA inventory report.

November Brent crude LCOX7, +1.07% the global benchmark, rose 49 cents, or 0.9%, to$55.63 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude October contract was at $50.51 a barrel by 07:15 a.m. ET (11:15 GMT), up 54 cents or about 1.08%, just off a four-month peak of $50.81 reached on Tuesday.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to cut crude oil production by 1.8 MMbpd (million barrels per day) from January 2017 to March 2018 as part of the production cut deal. Prices rose due to a fall in United States gasoline and distillate inventories between September 8 and September 15, 2017.

The group is considering a range of options, including an extension of cuts, but it would be premature to decide on what to do beyond the agreement's expiry in March, Iraqi oil minister Jabar al-Luaibi told an energy conference on Tuesday.

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Gasoline stockpiles were down 2.1 million barrels for the week, while distillate stockpiles fell to 5.7 million barrels, according to the EIA. Of course, other factors also have impact on the crude oil prices. On Friday, data from energy services company Baker Hughes showed domestic oil drillers running the lowest number of rigs since June.

"The market will be monitoring [the meeting] closely, to see if they're including Nigeria and Libya", said Tony Headrick, energy market analyst at CHS Hedging.

Some market participants think the amount of crude swirling in the market in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey was being underestimated, and prices could come under more pressure.

Moreover, even if this week's OPEC meeting ends on a high note and supports the argument that their cuts have been effective, any revival in prices will be short lived thanks to the unstoppable USA shale industry, which rebounded from Hurricane Harvey far quicker than anyone had predicted.

In the previous week, crude stocks climbed 5.9 million barrels, but gasoline inventories plunged by 8.4 million barrels.

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