Minister: Iraq to boost crude oil production by year's end

The EIA estimates that oil production per rig from new wells will be 720 barrels per day in April 2017-about 33.1% higher than in April 2016.

The resumption of activity also stalled a rally that Gene McGillian, manager of market research for Tradition Energy, says was about to occur "on the signs that the OPEC production agreement will be extended".

Libya's Sharara oil field, the country's largest, resumed production on Sunday after a week-long disruption.

"The lower end of oil prices will be protected by OPEC's output-cut decision, whereas the higher end will be capped by expanding US production", Hong Sung Ki, a commodities analyst at Samsung Futures Inc., said by phone from Seoul.

Brent for June settlement fell 5 cents to $53.48 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The mutual production decrease began on January 1. Tracking oil shipments is a fairly accurate way to track market conditions as most of OPEC's crude is exported on tankers.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and non-OPEC members including Russian Federation, agreed late a year ago to cut output by nearly 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of 2017.

Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery gained 79 cents, to USD 51.03, its highest level since March 7 while Brent crude for June rose USD 1.05, or 2 per cent to USD 54.17 per barrel.

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United States light crude may drop to $49.62 a barrel as it failed to break resistance at $50.95, said Reuters commodities markets technical analyst Wang Tao.

Oil prices fell on March 31 after a three-day rally ran out of steam due to a stronger dollar, promising to notch up the oil market's worst-performing quarter since 2015 as investors fret that growing US supplies are undermining OPEC-led cuts, Oil and Gas Investor writes in an article "Oil Prices Fall After Three-Day Rally".

"Should it confirm that US crude stocks did indeed fall for what would only be the second time this year, it will mark the start of a sustained tightening in USA crude supplies", said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM. The move higher came after the global benchmark broke above its 100-day moving average, a key resistance level, putting the contract into technically overbought territory for the first time since the end of December.

Libya's increased oil output "would have a bearish effect, but right now the market is more focused on potential extended cuts" by OPEC, he said.

Traders said that slowly tightening market conditions were driving price rises, with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) leading an effort to cut output.

US drillers added the most rigs in a quarter since the quarter of 2011.

Following a slump in 2015 and 2016, US oil production has risen 8.5 percent since mid-2016 to 9.15 million barrels per day (bpd), the same level output stood at in 2014 when the market downturn began.