Oil prices steadied on Tuesday after a week of gains as the prospect of increasing U.S. exports dampened bullish sentiment that has driven Brent to more than two-year highs above $60 per barrel.
Iraq`s move to increase oil exports from its southern ports by 220,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 3.45 million bpd to make up for supply disruptions from its northern Kirkuk fields also weighed on prices, traders said.
Benchmark Brent was down 6 cents at $60.84 a barrel by 1330 GMT, not far off July 2015 highs reached earlier this week, and up around 37 percent from its 2017 lows hit in June.
U.S. light crude was 10 cents lower at $54.05, still near its highest since February and also not far off its highest for more than two years.
Traders and brokers said investors were adjusting positions after price rises of around 5 percent in October.
"The impressive run higher in the energy complex is pausing for breath," said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates. "The trend is up but the contracts are losing upside momentum."
Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers, said: "U.S. shale output could keep a lid on prices over the medium to long term."
U.S. light crude has been trading at a discount of around $6.70 to Brent, making it attractive to refiners.
U.S. crude production has risen almost 13 percent since mid-2016 to 9.5 million bpd.
"The large differential has opened the door on regional arbitrage, driving a spike in U.S. crude exports over recent weeks," BMI Research said in a note.
Bullish sentiment was fuelled by a pledge by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other exporters to hold back about 1.8 million bpd in oil production to tighten markets.
While the actual cuts aren`t quite as high as the target, overall compliance has been strong.
"The OPEC deal compliance has been very firm, with rates averaging 86 percent since January," according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The pact runs to March 2018, but Saudi Arabia and Russia have voiced support to extend the agreement.
OPEC is scheduled to meet officially at its headquarters in Vienna on Nov. 30.
"The fear of oversupply could easily turn to a fear of undersupply if inventories keep declining like they have been and demand continues to grow," said William O`Loughlin, investment analyst at Rivkin Securities.
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