As oil prices stay the same, will United States producers change?

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery was at $50.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 15 cents, at 8:04 a.m.in Hong Kong. Brent rose 2 percent the previous day.

Crude oil imports C-CNIMP-PRM rose 12 per cent in September to 37 million tonnes, or around nine million barrels per day (bpd).

According to energy services firm Baker Hughes, drillers cut five oil rigs in the week to October 13, bringing the total count up to 743, the lowest since early June.

"The report is supportive given the larger than expected decline in crude oil inventories and the continued steady decline in distillate fuels", said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital LLC in NY. "I don't think there are many losers out there".

China has spent around $24 billion on building its crude reserves since 2015, at an average of $50 a barrel, and now holds around 850 million barrels of oil in inventory. The United States is not party to the deal, and its crude output has risen 10 percent this year to more than 9.5 million bpd.

"China has played a major role in global crude oil markets by helping to clear most of the excess seen in the last two to three years, which puts an even greater importance on understanding better, but also scrutinising the Chinese data", the IEA said in its monthly oil market report. U.S. crude supplies fell by 2.75 million barrels last week, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data on Thursday. Analysts had expected a draw of 2 million barrels. Last week, US refineries ran at 89 percent of operating capacity, up from a low of 77 percent in early September.

Earlier in the week, oil prices were pressured by a government report that showed USA fuel inventories rose despite efforts by OPEC to cut production. The IEA said the string of hurricanes that slammed into the US was partially to blame for the decline in the third quarter.

Monroe Energy, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N), was shutting its 185,000 barrel-per-day Trainer, Pennsylvania, refinery due to a fire on Wednesday, a source familiar with the plant's operations said.

Even with crude prices languishing around $50 a barrel - often lower - companies still took out more than 4,700 drilling permits last month, up 66 percent from the same month in 2016, with the biggest surges coming in California, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, according to data compiled by NY investment bank Evercore ISI.

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