Oil inches higher as Opec cut support grows

Crude drifted slightly higher in Asia on Friday with US rig count data ahead and the market in something of a holding pattern ahead of a May 25 meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC nations in Vienna widely expected to extend a pact to curb oil output.

While U.S. shale output growth and the shutdown of refineries for maintenance have slowed the impact of cuts by OPEC and its partners, producers are determined to reach their goal of reducing bloated stockpiles, Khalid Al-Falih said at the Asia Oil and Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur on May 8.

United States light crude oil ended the day up 50 cents, or 1.6 per cent, at $US47.83.

He added that the market had continued to confound expectations since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers agreed a year ago to cut output, as OPEC was no longer a lone heavyweight.

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"People are hinging the optimism today on the recent drawdown in inventories and I think that might last as long as we don't have another inventory build", said Stewart Glickman, head of energy research at CFRA Research in NY.

According to the report, OPEC members cut oil output by 18,000 b/d in April.

On 25 May, Opec will meet to determine policy for the second half of 2017.

OPEC and participating producers are scheduled to meet on May 25 to decide whether to extend the cuts and, potentially, agree a deeper reduction.

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Opec said Thursday that group production fell in April. If they don't, Glickman said, "they'll take the floor out from oil prices".

"There could be more cuts if there are other non-OPEC countries that will join the agreement", another OPEC source said, adding that Turkmenistan was expected to do so. At the same time, lower long-dated oil prices could accelerate the shift into deficit markets by curtailing the market's ability to grow future production through forward sales, i.e. fear of long-term surpluses reinforces near-term shortages.

"You're going to have to have a few weeks of 5 million-barrel draws just to get back to square one", he said.

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