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Oil prices fall on supply fears

Demand for crude oil is set to rise in the coming weeks as refineries around the world return from seasonal maintenance ahead of peak summer demand. (Reuters)
LONDON: Oil fell on Friday and was on course for its biggest weekly drop in a month due to doubts that the production cut led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will restore balance to an oversupplied market.
Brent futures were down $1.11, or 2.1 percent, at $51.88 a barrel at 1526 GMT. It was below its 50-day moving average of $54.01 but holding above its 200-day average of $51.20.
US crude futures, which rolled over on Friday, were at $49.56 a barrel, down $1.15, or 2.3 percent. At that level, the contract is well below its 50-day moving average of $51.28 and approaching its 200-day moving average at $48.87.
Both contracts were on course for a roughly 7 percent weekly decline.
Some OPEC members reportedly favor extending their production-limiting deal with non-member producers into the second half of the year. Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak, however, declined to say whether the top oil producer would adhere to an extension before a joint meeting on May 25, saying global stocks were declining.
“The situation has gradually been improving since the beginning of March,” Novak said.
Both oil benchmarks fell this week as doubts emerged over the effect of the OPEC/non-OPEC production cut by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) during the first half of the year.
Thomson Reuters Eikon data shows that a record 48 million bpd of crude is being shipped across ocean waters in April, up 5.8 percent since December.
The market is taking note: The value of the Brent forward curve has slumped steadily since the start of the OPEC-led cuts in January. The two-year calendar strip for Brent futures, or the average value of all contracts over that period, is down more than $4 since January at around $54.10 a barrel.
Demand for crude oil is, however, set to rise in the coming weeks as refineries around the world return from seasonal maintenance ahead of peak summer demand.
Also supporting the market, exports from OPEC member Iran, which was exempt from the cuts, are set to hit a 14-month low in May, suggesting the country is struggling to raise exports after clearing out stocks stored on tankers.

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