MTECHTIPS- Crude prices settled lower on Monday, after rising U.S. crude inventories continued to weighed on oil prices, as investors feared the supply glut in U.S. inventories could hamper OPEC’s efforts to re balance supply and demand. On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for May delivery lost 9 cents to settle at $48.40 a barrel, while on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent lost a cent to $51.36 a barrel. The acceleration in U.S. crude production weighed on oil prices in early-morning trade, as crude prices lingered well below $50, after recovering from an intraday low of $47.90 while Brent slid to $50.85, its lowest level since Nov 30. A surprise build in U.S. inventories combined with comments from Saudi Arabia’s oil Minister that OPEC may not extend its current production deal, sent crude prices down 8% since last Monday, despite two months of reduced production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. OPEC began implementing cuts of 1.16 million barrels per day at the start of this year for a period of six months, after its members and other exporters agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in November. Friday’s Baker Hughes report on U.S. drilling activity added to oversupply concerns as the Oilfield services firm, reported its weekly U.S. rig count rose by 8 to 617, the eight straight weekly increase. Meanwhile, market participants look ahead to crude oil inventories expected on Wednesday at 10:30 EDT.