Oil held steady above $69 a barrel on Thursday, supported by falling inventories of crude and threats of an attack on Nigeria's petroleum industry, although a reported rise in USA fuel supplies weighed.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $64.25 a barrel, up 28 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement.
The Forties pipeline system, which normally carries 40 percent of United Kingdom oil and gas production in the North Sea, was recently hit by a cracked pipe.
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On Wednesday it fell upon Bakheet Al-Rashidi, oil minister for Kuwait, to attempt to bring about calm in analytical circles: he told reporters that OPEC and other producers won't be discussing how to end the cuts when they meet this weekend in Oman. MCX Crude oil futures closed at Rs 4084 per barrel yesterday, flat on the day after hitting highs near Rs 4100 levels.
Ruecker's concerns dovetail with those of Citigroup Inc., Societe Generale, and JMorgan Chase & Co., all of whom have been reported as predicting that OPEC might ditch its cutbacks instead of maintaining them to the end of 2018 and ramping production back up in order to discourage rival supply.
"In short, inventories are coming down faster than we expected and OPEC is succeeding at rebalancing the oil market", wrote Francisco Blanch, head of global commodities and derivatives research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
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The upside is now limited for oil prices. In November, oil ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC member nations agreed to extend output cuts for the duration of 2018.
Goldman Sachs is not ready to raise its $62 target on Brent and $57.50 forecast for US crude in 2018, but says there's a growing risk that global inventories will fall too quickly and push up prices.
Despite this, analysts warned that the recent oil price rally, which has lifted crude by around 14 percent since early December, may be about to run out of steam.
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The API data also showed a well supplied fuel product market, which could mean lower crude demand going forward. The U.S. government's weekly supply data is due on Thursday.