US Feb shale output expected to rise to 6.55 mln bpd

Oil holds near 2014 high, supported by threat of Nigeria attack

Crude inventories take bullish dip

Earlier, oil minister said the oil market was expected to re-balance towards the end of 2018 and any strategy to exit a deal on supply cuts between OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers would be gradual.

US crude inventories declined 6.86 million barrels last week to the lowest level since February 2015, the Energy Information Administration said.

Brent for March settlement slipped 7 cents to end the session at $69.31 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The American Petroleum Institute was set to release its weekly report at 4:30 p.m. ET (21:30 GMT). Gasoline volumes rose by 3.6 million barrels, but stockpiles of distillate fuel oils - used to make diesel and heating oils - fell by 3.9 million barrels, according to new Energy Department data on Thursday. As a result of new investments, the production in the USA could reach 11 million barrels per day during the year, surpassing Saudi and Russian yields, shows the official government forecasts.

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"The US remains the key driver of non-OPEC supply growth", as shale producers in the US ramp up production, OPEC said.

X The cartel's forecast for USA output growth this year was revised up by 110,000 barrels per day to 820,000 bpd, as higher crude prices encourage an increase in conventional production.

OPEC compliance with oil-output cuts rose to a record 129 percent in December, according to Bloomberg calculations from the group's secondary-source estimates in a monthly market report published Thursday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russian Federation have been curbing production since January 2017; the cuts are set to last through 2018.

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Goldman Sachs says there's a growing risk that global inventories will fall too quickly and push up prices and this will spur USA drillers to start pumping more, but prices will continue rising at faster relative speeds than United States pumping outputs. Global consumption will expand by about 1.5 million barrels a day this year, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said earlier this month. The record-high November oil shipments to China were stockpiled, and used by refiners during the last month of the year.

US crude inventories probably declined by 3.15 million barrels last week, according to the median estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

Permian production is forecast to rise by 76,000 bpd to 2.87million bpd.

"It is costing more to rehire skilled workers owing to a tightened labor market and the availability of equipment", OPEC said.

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"Supply growth overshadowing demand growth should be the main topic for the energy market in 2018", the bank said.

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