Oil drops on rising US drilling, steady Opec supply

SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Monday, with already-bloated markets pressured by rising US drilling activity and steady supplies from Opec countries despite touted production cuts.
As of 0800 GMT, prices for benchmark Brent crude futures (LCOc1) were down 34 cents, or 0.66 per cent, at $51.42 per barrel.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures (CLc1) slipped 48 cents, or 0.98 per cent, to $48.30 a barrel. Traders said that prices came under pressure from rising US drilling and ongoing high supplies by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) despite its pledge to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) together with some other producers like Russia.
US drillers added 14 oil rigs in the week to March 17, bringing the total count up to 631, the most since September 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday, extending a recovery that is expected to boost shale production by the most in six-months in April.
Sukrit Vijayakar of energy consultancy Trifecta said the rising drilling activity was “reinforcing the expectation of higher US production offsetting (Opec’s) supply cuts”.
US oil output has risen to over 9.1 million bpd from below 8.5 million bpd in June last year.
Reacting to the ongoing glut in markets, financial oil traders cut their net long US crude futures and options positions in the week to March 14, the third consecutive reduction, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday. “This unwinding of position is both a cause and reflection of the big fall in crude oil prices when the cracks in the Opec/non-Opec deal emerged and when it seems like it became evident shale oil is back and the new swing player,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at brokerage AxiTrader. — Reuters