Saudi Energy Minister Praises OPEC Oil Price Boost

A petro-industrial factory is reflected in a traffic mirror in Kawasaki near Tokyo

West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 1 cent to $52.66 a barrel.

There was also some vague optimism that OPEC would extend production cuts following rhetoric by Kuwait and Saudi Arabian officials, although sentiment remained cautious.

USA inventories now sit at 532.3 million barrels, only down about 3 million units from the record reached in March. On Thursday, before the break closed most major markets, they settled up 3 cents at $55.89 a barrel.

"Oil producers would need to extend the historic agreement to curb global overspply through and until the end of 2017 for oil prices to surge", CNBC reported, citing the bank's report, "amid concerns Russian Federation is lagging behind on its pledged production cuts".

OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signalled that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russian Federation, would likely extend their oil output cut beyond June.

"Unless the (EIA) data shows something drastically different, this report should cause a severe dent in the bullish case (for oil prices)", said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.

US crude stocks fell last week as refineries hiked output, but gasoline supplies, which are already seasonally high, surprisingly increased, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Oil prices regained some ground on Thursday, after steep losses in the previous session, as leading Gulf oil producers signaled a likely extension of OPEC-led supply cuts beyond the middle of the year. Their intraday low was $52,14, also the weakest since April 7.

CRUDE oil fell slightly yesterday on signs that the United States is continuing to add output largely counteracting the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, efforts to cut production.

Saudi Arabia committed to lower its output by 486,000 barrels a day to 10.058 million a day while Iraq agreed to cut by 210,000 barrels a day.

More barrels could be on their way to market from USA shale fields as financial companies are investing billions in production, a Reuters analysis showed.

OPEC is due to meet on May 25 to weigh an extension of output cuts beyond June to alleviate a glut that has depressed prices for almost three years.

Moscow has not stated whether it supports prolonging the curbs, although Energy Minister Alexander Novak said this month that Russian Federation would soon start consultations with its own oil producers about the possibility of doing so. OPEC's average compliance for 2017 is 99 percent, the IEA said.

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