Oil prices firmed on Monday, supported by a slowdown in new rigs looking for crude and a perception of strong demand.
Futures were little changed in NY, after rising 5.2 per cent last week. However, the slower pace of additions, as well as a much larger-than-expected decline in US crude stocks reported by the Energy Information Administration last week of 7.6 million barrels, suggests the torrid pace of American production could be easing.
The group's output climbed last month to the highest this year as members exempt from the deal - Nigeria and Libya - pumped more and others slipped in delivering their pledged curbs. "However, we may see bigger risks on the supply side, especially from rising United States production and stockpiles, once seasonal demand wanes in the fourth quarter".
West Texas Intermediate for August delivery was at US$46.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 12 cents, at 11:37 a.m.in Seoul. Prices gained US$2.31 to US$46.54 a barrel last week.
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Brent crude futures, the worldwide benchmark for oil prices, were at $49.08 per barrel at 0126 GMT, up 17 cents, or 0.35 per cent, from their last close. Prices climbed 4.7 per cent last week.
In other news, USA drillers added two oil rigs in the week to July 14, bringing the total count up to 765, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $2.18 to WTI. It is the second week of renewed growth after drillers snapped a 23-week stretch of advances at the end of June.
Traders and analysts said the rising prices were a result of strong demand as well as signs that a relentless climb in U.S. oil production was slowing down. Shale explorers have been the driving force behind a surge in USA production, more than doubling the rig count from a low of 316 in May 2016.
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