Russia's Novak: return to October'16 oil output levels possible

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As Reuters writes in the article Oil slips further below $80/bbl on talk of easing output curbs, Brent crude LCOc1 futures fell $1.01 to settle at $78.79 a barrel, a 1.27 percent loss.

A production boost would mark at least a partial reversal for OPEC, which cut output by 1.8 million barrels a day in January 2017 to relieve a global oil glut and support prices.

"The chat is still that OPEC will do something at its June meeting in reaction to the looming prospect of a fall in crude production and exports from both Iran and Venezuela as the year progresses", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader.

West Texas Intermediate fell $2.83, or 4%, Friday to $67.88.

But OPEC and Russian Federation could raise oil output by as much as one million bpd as soon as June after the White House raised concerns that oil prices were too high, Reuters reported.

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Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the easing of restrictions would be gradual so as to not shock the market, noting that producing countries would soon have the capacity to liberalize supply and that this could probably happen in the second half of 2018.

The decline was due to producers' greater adherence to their pledged output cuts - their compliance rate reached 152 percent in April - and to summer demand for crude and refined products, according to the people. Saudi Arabia is concerned the de facto leader of OPEC.

On Friday, many statements by OPEC officials and Russian Federation came to reflect a change in the general trend, which until a few days ago had been backing an extension of the agreement till 2018 ends.

Supply concerns in Iran and Venezuela following new U.S. sanctions had pushed both Brent and WTI to multi-year highs, with Brent breaking through an $80 threshold last week for the first time since November 2014. On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump called off a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over that nation's nuclear aims. One option is to look at a longer-range, a 10-year average from 2004 to 2014, while another is to use the five-year average but exclude data from 2015 and 2016 because those were years of abnormally large stockpiles, the people said.

Data last week showed the number of USA oil rigs steadied after rising for five weeks in a row. The weekly instalment of drilling activity from Baker Hughes will provide investors with fresh insight into US oil production and demand. Natural gas futures was up 0.48% to $2.954 per million British thermal units.

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