Oil output at biggest Libya field said to plummet

Also, a surprising increase in the U.S. oil rig count dented hopes for an end to the global supply glut.

The American Petroleum Institute is expected to report an estimate of the crude and refined stocks by the last week of the month; the report is also expected to be accompanied by the official data from the Energy Information Administration.

Oil prices edged up on Wednesday, lifted by declining United States crude inventories, although markets were still restrained by general oversupply.

Traders await the latest USA oil inventories data for clues about domestic production and consumption.

September West Texas Intermediate crude oil CLU7, +0.34% fell 4 cents, or less than 0.1%, to settle at $47.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange-off the day's low of $47.02.

USA crude inventories fell by 9.2 million barrels in the week to August 11 to 469.2 million, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday.

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In May this year, OPEC producers and 11 participating non-OPEC countries including Russian Federation formally ratified the agreement first drafted last November to cut supplies by 1.76 million barrels per day for an extension. USA light crude settled down 4 cents at $47.55, off a session low of $47.02, the lowest since July 25.

"The market took this as a mildly bullish report", said William O'Loughlin, investment analyst at Rivkin Securities.

Oil extended its decline after the USA forecast record shale output next month and the International Energy Agency said OPEC producers face a long battle with American rivals. Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for the PRICE Futures Group in Chicago, said in a daily emailed newsletter the leveling effect may be overstated because production growth isn't keeping up with demand.

The recent OPEC/non-OPEC capacity cuts have meant that India has had to diversify its crude suppliers, with state-run refiners making purchases of USA crude grades.

"It is the ongoing fundamental issue of excessive supply that is continuing to weigh on oil prices..."

Atkinson's seeming change of heart notwithstanding, all parties agree on one thing: OPEC faces an uphill battle in achieving any sort of gains on production cutbacks: Bloomberg notes that both Total SA and Weatherford International Plc believe a reasonable crude market might not return until the end of the decade. The compliance outside the OPEC is even worse at just 67 percent. "We had seen in the past few weeks that demand growth was robust, and this turned that on its head".

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