* Saudi, Russian energy ministers to meet Mondy in Beijing
* Soaring U.S. oil output weighs on market
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, May 15 Oil prices held steady on
Monday, supported by expectations that OPEC and Russia have
agreed to extend a production cut beyond the first half of this
However, another rise in U.S. drilling activity weighed on
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for
oil prices, were at $50.86 per barrel at 0125 GMT, little
changed from their last close at $50.84.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures
were at $47.88 per barrel, also little changed from the last
settlement at $47.84.
Analysts said that the market was supported by an
expectation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC) and other producers including Russia have
agreed to extend an agreement to cut output by almost 1.8
million barrels per day (bpd) beyond the initial period of the
first half of the year.
"The news that OPEC has tentatively agreed to rollover the
production cut agreement should provide some support to oil
prices this week," ANZ bank said on Monday.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and his Russian
counterpart Alexander Novak are scheduled to meet in Beijing on
Monday to discuss oil output policy.
Russia is the world's biggest oil producer, while Saudi
Arabia is the biggest exporter.
Together, they control around 20 million bpd in daily
output, equivalent to a fifth of daily global consumption.
However, a relentless rise in U.S. drilling activity is
undermining efforts by OPEC and Russia to prop up the market.
U.S. energy firms have added oil rigs for a 17th week in a
row, extending a 12-month drilling recovery that is expected to
help boost crude production in the United States to a record
high next year.
Current U.S. production is at 9.3 million bpd C-OUT-T-EIA,
up more than 10 percent since its mid-2016 trough.
Drillers added nine oil rigs in the week to May 12, bringing
the total count up to 712, the most since April 2015, energy
services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday.
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin)