* IEA sees OPEC expanding crude production by 1.95 million
bpd by 2022
* Iraq says ready to join OPEC output cuts in second half of
* China cuts economic growth target to 6.5 percent
(Updates throughout, adds settlement prices)
By Jessica Resnick-Ault
NEW YORK, March 6 Oil prices whipsawed on
Monday, with benchmark Brent rising and U.S. crude easing
slightly, after the market pushed higher early in the day on the
Iraqi oil minister's comments that cuts might persist into the
second half of the year.
Output forecasts from oil ministers of crude-producing
countries buffeted the market as industry leaders gathered at
the annual CERAweek energy conference in Houston. Prices have
been rangebound for more than 60 days on concerns that U.S.
production growth may undermine the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries' agreement to cut output during
the first half of the year.
"We're still searching for direction," said Carl Larry,
director of business development at Frost and Sullivan. "We
couldn't push it up too far too fast and get over $55," he said,
noting that U.S. oil prices had edged upward but not broken out
of the range.
"People are looking for reasons with CERAweek this week.
Right now, we're still stuck in the middle."
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude settled down 13
cents at $53.20 a barrel. Brent crude settled up 11
cents at $56.01 a barrel.
In a session driven by headlines, oil earlier strengthened
slightly after Iraq's oil minister said OPEC would likely need
to extend production cuts into the second half of 2017.
Iraq's oil minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi said the cuts would
likely need to be extended into the second half of 2017,
according to a Bloomberg report. Iraq is ready to join in such
an effort, the report said.
Iraq agreed to reduce production by 210,000 barrels per day
under the deal but OPEC's second-largest producer had originally
sought to be exempt from any cuts, saying it needed the revenue
to fight an Islamic State insurgency.
"I think that has stopped some of the selling pressure that
we opened with," said Gene McGillian, head of market research at
Still, he cautioned that OPEC's cuts have not yet altered
the overhang in oil inventories substantially.
"The idea that we can extend it would be supportive in the
medium term," he said. Statements from Saudi Arabia, OPEC's
largest member, would be needed to push the price substantially
higher, he said.
U.S. oil prices later swung lower after the International
Energy Agency (IEA) forecast potential shale oil growth and
waning European refined product demand, factors which work
against global efforts to end a glut.
U.S. shale oil production may grow by 1.4 million barrels
per day by 2022 with prices at about $60 per barrel, the IEA
said in a report. More than 3 million bpd of capacity growth
could be generated if prices rise to $80 a barrel, the agency
said. At the same time, demand for European refined products is
Earlier on Monday, oil retreated as China lowered its growth
target for the year to 6.5 percent, compared with 6.7 percent
last year, and tightened regulatory controls in an effort to
(Additional reporting by Keith Wallis in Singapore and Libby
George in London; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Richard Chang)