Saudi February crude oil exports drop to 21-month low

However, increasing shale production in the United States and global stocks threatened to pull prices down.

USA crude oil production has climbed to 9.24 million barrels per day, according to the latest Energy Information Administration data.

Secretary-General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Mohamed Barkindo said Wednesday the member states of the cartel showed in March higher compliance to bring down oil stocks.

Opec and other major producers are committed to reducing oil stockpiles, and all countries participating in a six-month deal to pare output are committed to restoring the market's stability.

Oil prices regained some ground on Thursday after steep losses the previous day, with a slight drop in US crude inventories stoking hopes that a global supply overhang might slowly retreat.

China's March gasoline output rose 2.5 percent year-on-year to 11.24 million tonnes, the highest level since at least April 2014, China's National Bureau of Statistics said, adding fuel into an Asian market that is already well supplied. After the American Petroleum Institute report was released, West Texas Intermediate edged downwards by 32 cents to reach $52.33 per barrel.

The compliance rate with the agreement among OPEC members and some non-members, including Russian Federation, "has been impressive", the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly oil market report, giving a lift to oil prices.

Crude oil futures fell slightly in quiet trading on Monday, after a three-day Easter break, as investors digested a third consecutive weekly gain in prices along with North Korea's failed missile launch on Sunday. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih reportedly said it is too early to make a decision on a deal extension. Brent crude has gained about 19 percent since OPEC made a decision to pare output, and the benchmark grade was 24 cents higher at $55.13 a barrel at 11:59 London.

Citigroup's analysts had estimated in February that oil prices would rise to $70 a barrel this year as supply and demand levels continued to rebalance, CNBC reported. Volatility in crude oil prices can impact oil and gas producers' earnings like Chevron (CVX), Noble Energy (NBL), Denbury Resources (DNR), and Cobalt International Energy (CIE).

  • Zachary Reyes