U.S. crude production fell by just under 100,000 barrels per day last month, according the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In its latest short-term energy outlook, the EIA said U.S. crude production dipped by 90,000 bpd month-over-month to an average of 9 million bpd in March.

U.S. crude oil production averaged an estimated 9.4 million bpd in 2015, the EIA said.

The agency revised its production forecast down to an average 8.6 million bpd in 2016 and 8.0 million bpd in 2017, a drop of about 100,000 bpd from last month’s forecast.

“The forecast reflects a decline in Lower 48 onshore production driven by persistently low oil prices that is partially offset by growing production in the federal Gulf of Mexico,” the report said.

U.S. natural gas inventories ended the winter heating season on March 31 at 2.478 trllion cubic feet, slightly above the previous end-of-March record high seen in 2012.

End-of-March inventories were 67 percent above year ago levels and 53 percent above the five-year average for that date, the EIA said.

The agency currently expects Henry Hub spot prices to average $2.18 per million British thermal units in 2016 and $3.02 per MMBtu in 2017, compared with an average of $2.63 per MMBtu in 2015.

North Sea Brent crude prices were up $6 per barrel in March to an average of $38 per barrel.

Both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices are forecast to average $35 per barrel in 2016 and $41 per barrel in 2017.

“However, the current values of futures and options contracts suggest high uncertainty in the price outlook,” the EIA said.

According to data provided by the EIA, U.S. crude stocks stood at 529.9 million barrels in March, well above four-year average levels.

Brent crude fell to $42.71 per barrel during Friday morning trading after climbing to a 2016 high of about $44 per barrel earlier in the week.

OPEC members along with representatives from Russia, Oman and Bahrain will meet in Doha on Sunday to discuss a potential production freeze plan.

A representative from Mexico will also attend but only to observe the meeting.

Iranian representatives will attend the meeting although they have repeatedly ruled out participating in a production deal, a potential sticking point for other OPEC members.

OPEC said in its latest monthly oil market report that it now expects global oil demand to grow by 1.54 million barrels per day, down by about 50,000 bpd from the group’s previous forecast.

The downward revision is tied to “slower economic momentum in Latin America,” the group said.


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