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OPEC says the demand for oil – its oil – will rise during 2015 because the cartel is winning its price war against US shale producers by driving them out of business.

“Higher global refinery runs, driven by increased [summer] seasonal demand, along with the improvement in refinery margins, are likely to increase demand for crude oil over the coming months,” the cartel said in its Monthly Market Report, issued, April 16.

Business Insider reported that OPEC forecasts demand at an average of 29.27 million barrels per day in the first quarter 2015, a rise of 80,000 bpd from its previous prediction made in its March report. At the same time, it said, the cartel’s own total output will increase by only 680,000 barrels per day, less than the previous expectation of 850,000 barrels per day, due to lower US and other non-OPEC production.

The United States appears to have been OPEC’s chief target when, at its November meeting in Vienna, its members, under Saudi leadership, agreed to maintain production at 30 million barrels per day despite falling prices caused by an oversupply of oil.

Average global oil prices began plunging in late June 2014 from more than $110 per barrel to a low of around $50 in January. They’ve now settled to around $60, and Laurence Fink, the CEO of Black Rock, the world’s largest asset manager, said in an interview April 16 on CNBC that the price of a barrel of oil probably would go no lower than $60 this year, but also rise no higher than $80.

The initial oversupply came mostly from a boom in US shale production, which was turning Americans from OPEC’s biggest customer into a competitor. But shale oil extraction requires hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is more expensive than conventional drilling and isn’t profitable if the price of oil falls below a threshold of about $60 per barrel.

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