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A 58% drop in the number of US drilling rigs, followed by a marked slowdown in US oil production growth and US oil drilling, followed by a marked slowdown in US oil production growth and $20/B-plus rally in oil prices since mid-January to above $65/B, has given rise to suggestions Opec’s November 2014 decision not to intervene in oil markets has been vindicated and the struggle for market share between Opec and its high-cost rivals has, in effect, been won by OPEC. Not so says the International Energy Agency (IEA). If anything, the battle has just begun.
Even an end to US crude builds – US commercial crude stocks slipped for the second straight week – does not “spell the end of all inventory increases,” the Paris-based OECD energy watchdog says in its latest Oil Market Report, citing both a pickup in US product stock builds, and “astounding” growth in non-Opec supplies in the first quarter from Russia, Brazil and China among others.
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