Oil rises as OPEC output cuts look set to continue while US drilling activity slumps

CNBC

Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.39 per barrel at 0323 GMT GMT, up 32 cents, or 0.6 percent from their last close.
  • Brent crude futures were at $65.04 per barrel, up 30 cents, or 0.5 percent.
  • This comes after Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih said an end to OPEC-led supply cuts was unlikely before June, while a report showed U.S. drilling activity fell for a third straight week.
Reusable: Oil pump jack leased by Devon Energy 150922
A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Co. near Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Nick Oxford | Reuters

Oil prices rose on Monday, lifted by comments from Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih that an end to OPEC-led supply cuts was unlikely before June and a report showing a fall U.S. drilling activity.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.39 per barrel at 0323 GMT GMT, up 32 cents, or 0.6 percent from their last close.

Brent crude futures were at $65.04 per barrel, up 30 cents, or 0.5 percent.

Despite the gains, markets were somewhat held back after U.S. employment data raised concerns that an economic slowdown in Asia and Europe was spilling into the United States, where growth has so far still been healthy.

“Downward revisions in global growth forecasts by OECD and ECB have capped bullish gains,” said Benjamin Lu of Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures.

Oil markets have generally been supported this year by ongoing supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-affiliated allies like Russia — known as the OPEC+ alliance.

OPEC+ has pledged to cut 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in crude supply since the start of the year to tighten markets and prop up prices.

The group will meet in Vienna on April 17-18, with another gathering scheduled for June 25-26, to discuss supply policy.

Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih told Reuters on Sunday it would be too early to change OPEC+ output policy at the group’s meeting in April.

“We will see what happens by April, if there is any unforeseen disruption somewhere else, but barring this I think we will just be kicking the can forward,” Falih said.

Prices were also supported by U.S. energy services firm Baker Hughes’ latest weekly report showing the number of rigs drilling for new oil production in the United States fell by nine to 834.

High drilling activity last year resulted in a more than 2 million bpd rise in production, to 12.1 million bpd reached this February, making the United States the world’s biggest producer of crude oil ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The slowdown in drilling points to more timid output growth going forward, but because the overall drilling level remains relatively high despite the recent decline, many analysts still expect U.S. crude output to rise above 13 million bpd soon.

“This is the third straight week of decline…after a number of oil producers trimmed their spending outlooks for 2019,” ANZ bank said on Monday.

Oil falls as China trims economic growth target, but OPEC-led cuts support

CNBC

Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • Both international benchmark Brent and U.S. crude futures declined.
  • Oil demand growth has been flagging along with an economic slowdown, especially in Europe and Asia.

Oil prices fell on Tuesday as China cut its 2019 economic growth target, dimming the outlook for fuel demand, although OPEC-led efforts to cut output still offered some support.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.28 per barrel at 0426 GMT, down 31 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures were at $65.33 per barrel, down 34 cents, or 0.5 percent.

“Near term … it is hard to get very bullish on oil prices. The market is still working off the surpluses built in H2 2018, keeping OECD commercial inventories stuck above the five-year average,” said energy analysts at economic research firm TS Lombard.

Oil demand growth has been flagging along with an economic slowdown, especially in Europe and Asia.

China said on Tuesday it was targeting economic growth of 6.0 to 6.5 percent in 2019, down from the 6.6 percent growth reported last year, which was already the lowest in decades.

Fuel efficiency is also improving, denting demand growth.

“2018 was the weakest (refined product) demand growth year since 2011,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.

Trade talk hopes

Optimism that the United States and China will soon end their bitter trade disputes has offered some support.

China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said on Tuesday that trade talks with the United States have been difficult but that working teams from both countries are continuing with their negotiations.

To prop up the market, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has led efforts since the start of the year to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply.

The group was due to decide in April whether to continue withholding supply, but OPEC sources said this week a decision would likely be delayed until June, meaning cuts will continue at least until then.

The OPEC-led supply cuts, as well as U.S. sanctions against its members Iran and Venezuela, come at the same time as U.S. crude output chases ever new records, rising by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since early 2018 and above 12 million bpd for the first time in February.

The cuts to OPEC supply have pushed up the Brent international crude price benchmark due to a shortage of the heavy crudes that OPEC mostly produces. At the same time, the surge in U.S. output is weighing down U.S. WTI prices as there is ample supply of America’s mainly light crudes.

Because of this, energy researchers at TS Lombard said “the Brent-WTI spread can be expected to stay wide.”

WTI’s front-month price spread to Brent has declined from near parity in 2016 to an average discount of $8.50 per barrel since the start of 2019.

During the same time, U.S. crude output has risen by almost 3 million bpd.

Oil dips on rising US crude inventories, darkening economic outlook

CNBC

  • Oil prices fell on Wednesday, pulled down by a report of increased U.S. crude inventories.
  • A darkening economic outlook stoked expectations of lower fuel demand.

Oil pumps wells Monterey Shale fracking

Getty Images

Oil prices fell on Wednesday, pulled down by a report of increased U.S. crude inventories and as a darkening economic outlook stoked expectations of lower fuel demand.

Front-month Brent crude oil futures were at $72.33 per barrel at 0408 GMT, down by 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $66.79 per barrel.

U.S. crude stocks rose by 3.7 million barrels in the week to Aug. 10, to 410.8 million barrels, private industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 1.6 million barrels, the API said.

“Oil prices … fell after the API inventory data showed an unexpected crude build last week,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

Oil prices down on demand fears amid Turkey crisis

Oil prices down on demand fears amid Turkey crisis  

Official U.S. fuel inventory data is due to be published later on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

Sentiment was also clouded by a darkening economic outlook which could start impacting oil demand, traders said.

The OECD’s composite leading indicator, which covers the western advanced economies plus China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa, peaked in January but has since fallen and slipped below trend in May and June.

World trade volume growth also peaked in January at almost 5.7 percent year-on-year, but nearly halved to less than 3 percent by May, according to the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

BMI Research said oil markets would “struggle for direction, as uncertainty around both the impact on supply from the Iranian sanctions and escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China persists.”