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Oil Settles Lower On Likely Hike In Russian Outputs

Crude oil futures edged lower on Monday on reports Russia and OPEC might increase production to boost their market share.

However, prospects of a drop in supply due to lower production in Iran and Venezuela amid reports that the U.S. might further toughen its stance against the two nations and possibilities of further disruption in crude production in Libya due to the ongoing unrest there supported oil at lower levels.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for May ended down $0.49, or 0.8%, at $63.40 a barrel.

On Friday, crude oil futures for May ended up $0.31, or 0.5%, at $63.89 a barrel, after rising to a high of $64.65 a barrel intraday.

The monthly report from the Energy Information Administration said crude oil production from seven major U.S. shale plays is forecast to climb by 80,000 barrels a day in May to 8.46 million barrels a day, from 8.38 million in April.

In the week ended April 5, U.S. crude production stayed in record territory, at 12.2 million barrels a day.

The Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov reportedly said over the weekend that Russia and OPEC may decide to boost production to fight for market share with the United States.

“There is a dilemma. What should we do with OPEC: should we lose the market, which is being occupied by the Americans, or quit the deal?” Anton Siluanov is quoted as saying to TASS News Agency.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is reportedly keen to keep cutting, but sources within OPEC said it could raise output from July if disruptions continue elsewhere.

OPEC and its allies are scheduled to meet in June to decide whether to continue with output cuts.

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