US cranking out crude, but don't expect lower prices: RBC
The United States is awash in oil, yet analysts at RBC Capital Markets don't expect that to pull benchmark crude prices much lower.
In its five-year outlook, published Thursday, RBC analysts said soaring U.S. production will be absorbed by the rest of the world "with only modest price impact" over the next year. The world's largest economy is churning out record amounts of crude, and is mulling whether to export some of it abroad—something it hasn't done in decades.
Last month, the Energy Information Administration said the U.S. would pump huge amounts of oil and natural gas through at least 2016, with annual crude production challenging the 1970 record of 9.6 million barrels per day.
(Read more: US oil, gas juggernaut on course through 2016: EIA)
The bank pointed out that U.S. production has surged by nearly 50 percent since its 2008 low, to its current 8 million barrels per day (bpd). With the shale boom accelerating, RBC estimates that production could grow by at least 700,000 bpd each year through 2016.
That could lead to oil supply from the U.S. partly displacing that from OPEC, which is in the throes of supply disruptions amid turmoil in Libya and Iraq.
"We see OPEC continuing to cede market share to the U.S. in the near to medium term," said the analysts, who do not view supply growth from non-OPEC countries as a major threat to prices.
They wrote that they expect U.S. oil production to reach 11 million bpd in 2018 and for "the U.S. to become the world's largest oil producer in late 2016."
In spite of these crosswinds, RBC said, "we don't believe the current wave of U.S. oil growth will cause an oil price collapse." It foresees West Texas Intermediate trading between $92 and $94 in 2014-15, with Brent floating in a range of $102 to $103.
—By CNBC's Javier E. David