| SINGAPORE, March 24
SINGAPORE, March 24 Oil prices edged up on
Friday, supported by a fall in Saudi exports to the United
States, but overall markets remained under pressure on the back
of a world market awash with fuel.
Prices for front-month Brent crude futures, the
international benchmark for oil, were at $50.66 per barrel at
0027 GMT, up 10 cents from their last close.
In the United States, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude
futures were up 12 cents at $47.82 a barrel.
Traders said the slight lift in prices came as a report that
Saudi Arabia's crude exports to the United States in March would
fall by around 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) from February, in
line with OPEC's agreement to reduce supply.
The United States imported about 1.3 million bpd of Saudi
oil in February, according to U.S. Energy Information
In the United States, overseas oil suppliers like Saudi
Arabia have to compete against rising shale drilling, which has
pushed up U.S. oil production C-OUT-T-EIA by over 8 percent
since mid-2016 to more than 9.1 million bpd.
To other major consumer regions, however, Saudi exports
remain high despite an effort led by the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and supported by other
producers including Russia, to cut output by almost 1.8 million
bpd during the first half of the year to rein in a global supply
Ship chartering and trading data in Thomson Reuters Eikon
shows that OPEC shipments to Asia, the world's biggest and
fastest growing oil consuming region, were at 17.6 million bpd
in March, up over 5 percent since January, when the cuts
officially started, in a sign that OPEC is shielding its main
customers from the supply reductions.
Unless OPEC extends the curbs beyond June or makes bigger
supply reductions, traders say oil prices are at risk of falling
"The market is keen to see further progress on production
cuts to alleviate the still growing stockpiles," ANZ bank said
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford)