* OPEC looks set to extend output cuts through 2017
* But rise in U.S. drilling undermines group's efforts
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, April 24 Oil prices recovered some
ground on Monday following last week's big losses, driven by
expectations that OPEC will extend a pledge to cut output to
cover all of 2017, although a relentless rise in U.S. drilling
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures
added 23 cents, or 0.5 percent, by 0037 GMT, but were still
below the $50 mark pierced on Friday at $49.85 a barrel.
Brent crude futures rose 27 cents, or 0.5 percent,
to $52.23 per barrel.
Oil prices fell steeply last week on the back of stubbornly
high crude supplies, despite a pledge by the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some other producers to
cut production by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) for
six months from Jan. 1 to support the market.
U.S. drillers added oil rigs for a 14th week in a row, to
688 rigs, extending an 11-month recovery that is expected to
boost U.S. shale production in May by the biggest monthly
increase in more than two years.
U.S. crude pruduction is at 9.25 million barrels per day
(bpd) C-OUT-T-EIA, up almost 10 percent since mid-2016 and
approaching that of OPEC's top exporter Saudi Arabia.
"WTI oil slipped back below the $50 per barrel level, amid
concerns that the lack of inventory drawdown since the OPEC
production cuts is a sign that the cuts are not enough to
rebalance supply and demand and put a floor under prices," said
William O'Loughlin, investment analyst at Rivkin Securities in a
note on Monday.
Both the Brent and WTI oil benchmarks are down more than 7.5
percent since the end of last year.
Keen to halt a further decline in prices, a panel made up by
OPEC and other allied producers has recommended an extension of
output cuts by another six months from June, a source said.
This, and an expected fall in Iranian production lent
markets some support on Monday, traders said.
Iran's crude oil exports are set to hit a 14-month low in
May, suggesting the country is struggling to raise exports after
clearing out stocks stored on tankers.
Iranian oil exports, especially to its core markets in Asia,
had soared since the ending of most sanctions against it in
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin)