Published: Tue, March 14, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

Oil Extends Decline as US Drilling Accelerates Amid OPEC Cuts

Oil Extends Decline as US Drilling Accelerates Amid OPEC Cuts

And for all their bravado, shale producers and the entire US oil supply chain have been badly wounded and rescued by a rise in prices largely engineered by OPEC.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters including Russian Federation agreed late last year to cut output by around 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of this year, but so far the move has had little impact on inventory levels.

The EIA data forecasts recent and near-term drilling activity in seven major oil-producing regions that have driven about 90 percent of us output growth in recent years.

US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) declined 45 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $48.04 a barrel, also the lowest since November 30. In Libya, crude production dropped 11% as clashes among rival armed groups led to the closure of some of the OPEC nation's biggest oil-export terminals.

Brent for May settlement fell as much as 52 cents, or 1 per cent, to US$50.85 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Rigs targeting crude in the USA rose to the most since September 2015, according to Baker Hughes Inc. The slide in oil prices, which had traded between $50.50 and $55.24 since December 16, helped drag the S&P 500 to its first weekly decline since January. Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih said inventories haven't fallen as fast as OPEC had expected.

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OPEC members are running out of money and need higher prices to reduce their budget deficits and halt the slide in their foreign reserves.

Futures were little changed in NY after falling 9.1% last week, the biggest weekly loss since November. The sustained increase in drilling rigs maintained expectations that USA shale production would continue to increase over the next few months.

USA crude stockpiles rose to 528.4 million barrels in the week ended March 3, the highest in weekly data going back to 1982, according to an Energy Information Administration report on March 8.

Baker Hughes (BHI) reported that the U.S. crude oil rig count rose by eight to 617 rigs from March 3-10, 2017. Production also increase by 56,000 barrels a day to 9.088 million barrels. "If prices stay under $50 we should see some North American producers slow investment". OPEC members and Russian Federation are loudly extolling the benefits of "compliance" with output cuts agreed in late 2016.Shale firms are pledging to maintain their own financial "discipline" in expanding production and avoid flooding the market or developing unprofitable new oil wells.

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