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Goldman Sachs slashes oil price projection amid US shale surge

  • Goldman Sachs now points to a three-month average of $47.50 per barrel for WTI crude, down from its previous estimate of $55.00 a barrel.
  • Analysts from the investment bank said they remained "cyclically bullish within a structurally bearish framework," noting that global inventories were drawing, demand is high, OPEC could still make deeper cuts and U.S. producers could be discouraged by rising costs.

Goldman Sachs has downgraded its forecast for oil prices over the next quarter amid a sudden uptick in shale drilling and an unexpected surge in production from Libya and Nigeria.

The investment bank now points to a three-month average of $47.50 per barrel for WTI crude, down from its previous estimate of $55.00 a barrel.

"The fast ramp-up in shale drilling and the unexpectedly large rebound in Libya/Nigeria production are on track to slow the 2017 stock draws," Goldman Sachs analysts said in a research note published late Wednesday.

The rebound in production from Libya and Nigeria — two countries which were exempt from OPEC's historic November deal to curb output – could offset inventory declines in the third quarter of this year, the Goldman analysts warned.

"This creates risks that the normalization in inventories will not be achieved by the time the OPEC cut ends next March. We expect this will leave prices trading near $45 (a barrel) until there is evidence of a decline in the U.S. horizontal oil rig count, sustained stock draws or additional OPEC production cuts," they said in the note.

'Cyclically bullish within a structurally bearish framework'

OPEC delegates have indicated they will not rush to implement further cuts to crude output. However, pressure from investors amid a relentless global supply overhang could prompt the group to consider further steps to support the market at its upcoming meeting in Russia next month.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported crude stocks increased by 118,000 barrels last week. Meanwhile, production levels fell by 100,000 barrels per day in what was the largest decline in weekly output in almost a year.

Goldman analysts said they remained "cyclically bullish within a structurally bearish framework," noting that global inventories were drawing, demand is high, OPEC could still make deeper cuts and U.S. producers could be discouraged by rising costs.

Oil prices were trading higher in early afternoon deals on Thursday, extending a rally into a sixth consecutive session. Brent crude traded 0.8 percent higher at $47.69 just after midday, while WTI was up by 0.94 percent at around $45.17.