A sense of OPEC divisions a blow to oil prices

Oil Oil futures Oil price OPEC crude oil petroleum Petroleum industry Saudi Arabia Egypt the United Arab Emirates Bahrain Qatar Brent Crude Brent Crude futures price rise price fall crude inventories market Oil market Oil industry comm

Oil Oil futures Oil price OPEC crude oil petroleum Petroleum industry Saudi Arabia Egypt the United Arab Emirates Bahrain Qatar Brent Crude Brent Crude futures price rise price fall crude inventories market Oil market Oil industry comm

Currently, oil prices gained support from growing tensions in the Middle East and signs of decline in U.S. inventory.

World fuel production and consumption is roughly in balance, at nearly 98 million bpd, although inventories remain somewhat bloated, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Crude futures edged up in early Asian trading on Thursday following heavy losses in the previous session after official data showed that USA inventories rose for the first time in 10 weeks, reawakening concerns over a glut. Crude stockpiles at the Cushing oil hub in Oklahoma fell 1.4M barrels last week.

Gasoline inventories also unexpectedly rose, imports increased, and exports dropped, the EIA data showed. USA commercial crude inventories increased by 3.3 million barrels last week, maintaining a total US commercial crude inventory of 513.2 million barrels.

Brent crude futures were at US$50.08 per barrel at 0504 GMT, down 4 cents from their last close.

Commodities brokerage Marex Spectron said it expects a "lower supply of crude oil on the physical market" in the coming weeks, lending oil prices some support.

Crude oil prices remained under pressure in Wednesday trading as geopolitical issues in the Persian Gulf lead to questions about OPEC unity.

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Gasoline stocks rose by 3.3 million bbl, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 580,000 bbl gain.

Qatar with a production capacity of about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) is one of OPEC's smaller oil producing nations.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) lost 5 percent to reach as low as $45.78 per barrel - its lowest level since May 8. This decision came in the wake of OPEC's November 30 decision to cut output by 1.2 million bpd for six months effective from January 1.

Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: 0LN9.L - news) lifted force majeure on exports of Nigeria's Forcados crude oil, bringing all the country's oil exports fully online for the first time in 16 months.

Crude stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI and the biggest United States oil-storage hub, probably decreased by 750,000 barrels, according to a forecast compiled by Bloomberg.

First of all, the latest development in the Middle East is actually a diplomatic incident, which is unlikely to lead to any military action under normal circumstances, indicating no disruption to the regional oil production and supply.

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