The oil market is always highly volatile.
Oil market overview
Oil prices recovered some losses at the start of the week, rebounding from a 3% fall in the previous session amid a stronger USD and oversupply worries.
The number of active US oil rigs increased by 7 bringing the total count to 763 rigs this week, according to data published by Baker Hughes on Friday. The data contradicted investors’ expectations of the continued rig count fall, after the previous week decline (the first one from January).
The rising activity of the US oil industry comes as OPEC’s supplies remain ample despite the group’s commitment to cut output by the end of March 2018. OPEC exported around 26 million barrels per day in last month which 450000 barrels per day more than in May despite the extension of the OPEC’s output cut deal.
Additional drag was upbeat nonfarm payrolls data from the US that triggered USD buying.
This week modest rebound in oil prices was a reflection of opportunistic buying after the Friday’s downfall. Another boost was the news about the OPEC’s intention to cap unlimited supply of oil from Nigeria and Libya pumping industries. Up to day, they were exempt from OPEC’s production cut agreement due to their internal turbulences. After the appeasement, their production capacities have improved. Libya’s crude oil output has surged to more than one million barrels a day, up from 400 thousand in October, while Nigeria’s output has risen to 1.6 million barrels a day, up from 200,000 barrels a day in October.
These are significant increases. Nobody argues with that. Nevertheless, the main concern of investors is rising US oil output. The US Energy Information Administration said the US output has increased to almost 9.34 million barrels per day last week dragging oil prices downwards (the earlier rally had started due to US oil production’s downfall).
The African produced were invited to participate at the OPEC-non-OPEC meeting on July 24 in Saint-Petersburg to discuss the levels and stability of their production. If Libya and Nigeria manage to stabilize their oil production at today’s levels, they will be asked to decrease it as soon as possible. The other participants of production cut agreement won’t be demanded additional sacrifices. Mohammad Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC, told media in Istanbul before the World Petroleum Congress (July 9-13) that OPEC/non-OPEC ministerial committee are not going to discuss the possibility of further cuts.
In the short-term, the oil prices will continue to fluctuate under the influence of the data reflecting the performance of the US oil industry (weekly crude inventory estimates coming on Wednesday, and Friday’s Baker Hughes rig count). As we approach the OPEC/non-OPEC meeting the focus will be on the participants’ decision to curb or not curb the African countries’ production, to discuss the prolongation of the output cut deal or leave this question open.
At the time of writing, Brent oil futures are trading at $46.75 well below the psychologically important level of $50. They added some gains in Tokyo morning, then lost their zest as the European session commenced. WTI futures are down to $44.23 from today’s opening price of $44.52
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