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Crude oil futures trend lower as demand concerns persist; ICE Brent down to $61.13/b, NYMEX WTI $52.41/b

Crude rangebound as Russia joins OPEC output talks; ICE Brent up a shade at $60.41/b, NYMEX WTI $51.49/b

London — Crude oil futures were rangebound in the European morning session after trading slightly lower in Asia after Thursday's OPEC meeting in Vienna failed to reach an agreement on production cuts.

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At 1135 GMT, ICE February Brent crude futures were up 35 cents from Thursday's settle at $60.41/b, while the NYMEX January light sweet crude contract was trading flat at $51.49/b.

"While OPEC agreed to a production cut in principle yesterday, it has so far failed to release any concrete figures. A decision on this has been postponed until today. One key role will be played by Russia, which will only be joining the consultations today," Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

Meanwhile, "the capacity of action is mostly limited to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Russia and the deal is about packaging the ongoing export reduction of Saudi Arabia more than about producing a grandiose cut," Olivier Jakob of PetroMatrix said.

"The slow death of OPEC started the day the US ban on export was lifted. It is symbolic that in the same week, Qatar announced that it was quitting the organization and the US announced that it became for the first time a net exporter of petroleum," Jakob added.

Outside of OPEC, US crude supply contracted last week, snapping 10 consecutive weeks of rises as crude exports soared to all-time highs.

Commercial crude stocks fell 7.32 million barrels to 443.16 million barrels during the week ended November 30, US Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday, bringing inventories to 5.98% above the five-year average. The drop far exceeded analyst expectations of a 2.39 million barrel draw in an S&P Global Platts survey.

It also appears the fall in oil prices has affected drilling as the number of active rigs either fell or remained the same in all but one US onshore, oil-rich basin, while the more gas-oriented Marcellus basin managed to add five new rigs week on week, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics data.

The active rig count dropped by four to 1,179 for the week ending Wednesday, marking the second week in a row operators reduced rigs, with the drops focused in oil-rich basins. Active rigs fell by 25 last week with 19 of those being oil-oriented, the largest week-on-week drop since late February, when rigs fell by 26.

Elsewhere, Russia will invest $5 billion to raise Venezuela's oil production by 1 million b/d under a new economic agreement, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday.

Venezuela pumped 1.18 million b/d in October, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC production survey, down from 2.09 million b/d two years ago.

--Anthony Guida, anthony.guida@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Dart, jonathan.dart@spglobal.com