November 21, 2017 / 1:57 AM / a month ago

Oil rises, but capped as caution sets in ahead of OPEC meeting

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil rose on Tuesday, supported by expectations of an extension next week to OPEC output cuts, but prices remained under pressure from signs of higher output in the United States.

Brent crude oil LCOc1 was up 17 cents at $62.39 a barrel at 1452 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was at $56.72, up 30 cents.

Analysts said Brent was expected to fluctuate in a narrow range, from $61 to $63, as the market awaited the outcome of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ meeting on Nov. 30.

OPEC, together with a number of non-OPEC producers led by Russia, has been restraining output this year in an effort to end a global supply overhang and prop up prices.

At its meeting next week, the group is widely expected to extend the deal beyond its March 2018 expiry date.

“The market is just waiting for confirmation that OPEC wants to move on with the extension,” said Ole Hansen, senior manager at Saxo Bank.

But doubts about the willingness of some participants including Russia to keep restricting production have led traders to take a more cautious approach and weighed on prices.

“Against the positive news we have some comments from Russia which could indicate that they at this stage prefer to wait and see,” Hansen said.

“And obviously a deal in order to be successful needs to have everyone on board.”

Russian news agency TASS reported on Tuesday that the country’s oil producers had met with the energy ministry to discuss a six-month extension, as opposed to the nine months originally floated by President Vladimir Putin.

    But the biggest headache for OPEC has been a rise in U.S. drilling activity, led by shale oil producers.

    Energy consultancy Westwood Global Energy Group said U.S. output would climb even faster than implied by the rising rig count, which has jumped from 316 rigs in mid-2016 to 738 last week, as producers become more productive per well.

    “Westwood Global Energy forecasts an 18 percent increase in active rigs in 2018, but more rapid demand growth in certain service areas as operators focus on efficiency and delivering more for less,” the consultancy said.

    FGE, another consultancy, also warned that though supply disruptions could lead to spikes in the oil price next year, the market could slump again towards 2019 if U.S. production continued to soar.

    “We see another big rush with (U.S.) production growth of some 1-1.5 million bpd (barrels per day) in 2018 and 2019,” FGE said.

    Reflecting rising U.S. oil exports to Asia, U.S. commodity exchange CME Group (CME.O) said it would list a new futures contract that prices the spread between U.S. WTI futures and Middle East benchmark Dubai, starting Dec. 18.

    Additional reporting by Keith Wallis; Editing by Dale Hudson

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