IEA: Nigeria's Rising Crude Oil Output Balanced OPEC Production in January

Solutions oil refinery is seen at sunset in front of the Philadelphia skyline

NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday and gasoline futures tumbled, after the USA government said crude inventories rose more than expected while gasoline stocks posted a big build instead of the draw that was forecast.

According to JBC Energy GmbH, new projects in the North Sea coming on stream this year will increase the U.K.'s crude output above 1 million barrels a day, and that on a net trade basis this amount will soon allow overseas sales to overtake imports.

"Investors are likely looking at Libya for a potential reason for a rally in oil prices, but this shouldn't last too long", Barnabas Gan, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking, said by phone from Singapore.

April WTI crude oil futures settled at $63.91, up $0.36 or +0.57% and April Brent crude oil closed at $67.50, up $0.19 or +0.28%.

But soaring USA production is upending global oil markets at a time when other major producers - including the Middle East-dominated OPEC and Russian Federation - have been withholding output to prop up prices.

Saudi Arabia last week said it hoped OPEC and its allies would be able to relax production curbs next year and create a permanent framework to stabilize oil markets after the deal expires. On Tuesday, Brent fell 87 cents to $66.63.

Both benchmarks rose last week - Brent by nearly 4 per cent and WTI by 3 per cent.

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ GRAPHIC: Russia vs Saudi vs US oil production ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^.

American explorers have expanded the fleet of rigs searching for domestic crude to the highest since 2015 as the Opec-led supply curbs resurrected oil markets.

Besides, OPEC and non-OPEC members also agreed to cut production volumes by as much as 1.8 million barrels per day (mbd) with OPEC members contributing 1.2mbd of that while the balance would be provided by non-OPEC members.

Still, OPEC and its allies seem unfazed by US shale and continue to send messages to the market that they will do "whatever it takes" to balance the oil inventories and that production cuts are here to stay until the end of 2018. Wednesday's release showed weekly production rose again to 10.3 million bpd.

Prices were pressured earlier after three of the world's top crude consumers- China, India and Japan - reported a slowdown in monthly factory activity. Both are expected to show a slight fall in USA production. FRX/ A strong dollar makes oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies.


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