Oil prices struggle on doubts OPEC can rein in oversupply

Top producer Russian Federation, not an OPEC member but which signed up to the deal to cut output, is expected to export 61.2 million tonnes of oil via pipelines in the third quarter, equivalent to about 5 million bpd, against 60.5 million tonnes in the second quarter, according to industry sources and Reuters calculations.

"Our first outlook for 2018 makes sobering reading for those producers looking to restrain supply", the IEA said in its monthly oil market report. Prices dropped $US1.73 to $US44.73 on Wednesday, the lowest close since November 14.

Crude futures extended losses for a second straight day, as investors continued to fret about growing United States production after recent data showed an unexpected surge in gasoline inventories, pointing to a period of potential weak demand. Global energy demand grew by 1 percent in 2016, a rate similar to the previous two years but well below the 10-year average of 1.8 percent, BP said in its benchmark Statistical Review of World Energy on Tuesday. A rise in USA crude oil exports could have also contributed to the fall in inventories.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude July contract was at $44.48 a barrel by 3:55AM ET (0755GMT), down 25 cents, or around 0.6%.

The price falls are due to ongoing high supplies despite the pledge to cut from within OPEC and because of rising output from the US. Crude output climbed while nationwide inventories fell less than predicted.

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"Production growth in Libya and Nigeria and continued rig additions in the US are complicating the picture, raising doubts on OPEC's strategy", AB Bernstein said, reports CNBC.

Add in Russia's tanker shipments and its total exports are likely above 9 million bpd.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) raised its prediction for U.S. output growth in 2017 to 460,000 bpd from a predicted decline of 80,000 bpd in December. "This looks challenging", AB Bernstein said.The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that oil supplies next year would still outpace demand despite consumption hitting 100 million bpd for the first time.

Libyan output will reach 900,000 barrels a day within days, National Oil Co. said on its website, citing Chairman Mustafa Sanalla.

Energy services company Baker Hughes said last Friday that US drillers last week added rigs for the 21st week in a row, the longest such streak on record.

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