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Oil weighed early Friday by U.S. crude exports; lower crude stocks prevent bigger fall

By Henning Gloystein

Petroleumworld 02 23 2018

Oil prices dipped on Friday as high U.S. crude exports outweighed lower crude inventories in the world's biggest consumer of the fuel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $62.70 a barrel at 0602 GMT, down 7 cents from their last settlement. Brent crude futures were down 11 cents at $66.28 a barrel.

WTI was still on track to rise about 1.7 percent for the week, and Brent was up 2.2 percent, with both contracts set for a second weekly gain after falling steeply early in the month.

Friday's dips followed bigger price rises the previous day when the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 1.6 million barrels in the week to Feb. 16, to 420.48 million barrels, despite a seasonal slowdown in demand at the end of the northern hemisphere winter season.

A counter-seasonal draw should always be taken bullishly -as it has been - but this week's net crude imports were very low, U.S. investment bank Jefferies said.

U.S. crude exports jumped to just above 2 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, EIA data showed, close to a record high of 2.1 million hit in October. That helped pull down net imports to below 5 million bpd, the lowest level since the EIA started recording the data in 2001.

U.S. crude oil production was virtually unchanged last week at 10.27 million bpd, close to levels of top producer Russia and more than OPEC-kingpin Saudi Arabia pumps.

Globally, however, oil markets remain well supported due to demand-growth coinciding with production restraint led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia.

Story by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Richard Pullin from Reuters. 02 23 2018 06:13 GMT

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