Oil price rises for second day ahead of producers' compliance meeting

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[January 20, 2017]  By Karolin Schaps

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices edged up for a second day on Friday on expectations that a weekend meeting of the world's top oil producers would demonstrate compliance to a global output cut deal, but a larger than expected rise in weekly U.S. crude stocks capped gains.

International benchmark Brent crude prices were up 58 cents at $54.74 a barrel at 1214 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were trading up 52 cents at $51.89 a barrel.

"Prices were pushed down a bit too far and hopes will rise that the OPEC/non-OPEC meeting this weekend will show that these producers actually give some proof that they cut production," said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro.

A weekend meeting in Vienna of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some producers outside of the group, including Russia, will establish a compliance mechanism to verify producers are sticking to a deal to reduce output, OPEC's secretary general told Reuters.

However, higher than expected crude oil and gasoline stocks in the United States weighed on prices on Friday.

U.S. crude inventories rose unexpectedly last week as refineries sharply slowed production, while gasoline stocks soared amid weak demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.

Crude inventories rose 2.3 million barrels in the week to Jan. 13, compared with analyst expectations for an increase of 342,000 barrels.

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Refinery workers walk inside the LyondellBasell oil refinery in Houston, Texas March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Donna Carson/File Photo

The data showed much larger than expected increases in gasoline stocks, with inventories on the U.S. east coast, the biggest demand region, swelling to the highest weekly levels on record for this time of year, when refiners typically begin storing barrels ahead of the summer driving season.

Adding to bearish news was the continuing rise in oil production from Libya, which is exempt from the producers' output cut deal. Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said production had now climbed to 722,000 barrels per day, resuming its rise after poor weather had caused a small dip.

Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB Markets, said Brent crude was starting to move into a trading range centred around $55 a barrel as the production cut deal had placed a floor price of $50 a barrel, while U.S. shale oil producers were capping the upside at $60 a barrel.

"As a new consensus is starting to form, the fog around the oil market balance is starting to clear and the oil price is likely going to start to stabilize," he said.

(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Elaine Hardcastle)

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