SINGAPORE, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Oil markets opened weak on Friday, with U.S. crude remaining below $50 per barrel, restrained by rising output from the United States as well as producer club OPEC.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $49.03 per barrel at 0136 GMT, flat from their last close but around 80 cents below their opening value this week.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $51.99 a barrel, down 2 cents from their last close and around 60 cents below the start of the week.
Traders said that prices were being held in check around current levels - rising output prevented increases, while strong demand prevented drops.
Crude oil exports by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries rose to a record high in July, driven largely by soaring exports from the group’s African members, according to a report by Thomson Reuters Oil Research this week.
July’s 26.11 million barrels per day (bpd) in exports marked a rise of 370,000 bpd, most of which came from Nigeria, which posted a rise of 260,000 bpd in shipments.
In the United States, oil production has hit 9.43 million barrels per day (bpd), the highest level since August 2015 and up 12 percent from its most recent low in June last year. C-OUT-T-EIA
“Quarterly reporting season has seen a swathe of (U.S.) shale producers announce aggressive production targets, despite weak prices as they cut costs and become more efficient,” ANZ bank said on Friday.
Strong demand is still preventing prices from falling.
U.S. gasoline demand rose to 9.842 million bpd last week, the highest since the U.S. Energy Information Administration began collecting the data in 1991, the federal agency reported this week. (Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)