Oil buoyed by drop in number of United States drilling rigs

Oil buoyed by drop in number of United States drilling rigs

Oil buoyed by drop in number of United States drilling rigs

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery added 29 cents to settle at $61.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Most recently, traders and oil market observers are waiting to see whether President Donald Trump on Wednesday extends USA sanctions relief to Iran as part of the 2015 global agreement to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. OPEC appears determined to end the global supply glut with disciplined output quotas in 2018.

"The potential for new sanctions, which could restrict [crude] supply" is supporting prices, said Geordie Wilkes, a research analyst at brokerage Sucden Financial.

Supply reports this week from industry group the American Petroleum Institute and the US government's Energy Information Administration are expected to show USA crude stocks fell 3.9 million barrels, an eighth week of decline.

A key United States government report on Wednesday is expected to show crude stockpiles dropped for an eighth straight week.

OPEC officials also think the 2018 rally has been mainly driven by unrest in Iran, rather than a tighter balance between supply and demand, giving rise to concern it may not last.

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On Tuesday, the price of oil climbed higher reaching its highest level seen since May 2015, propped up by OPEC-led production cuts and the belief that USA crude inventories have fell the eighth week in a row.

"If WTI were to go back below the 2017 high of $60.48, which was hit late in the year, and the 2018's opening price of $60.09, then the technical outlook would turn bearish on oil". The price of Brent has risen roughly almost 30% over the past year.

Even so, USA production is expected soon to rise above 10 million barrels per day, close to Saudi levels, due largely to soaring output from shale drillers, government data shows.

"The U.S. oil price is now into a range that is anticipated to attract increased shale oil production", said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

US crude production was forecast to climb by 970,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 and rise another 580,000 bpd to 10.85 million bpd in 2019, the EIA said in a monthly report that provided the agency's first outlook for next year.

Futures advanced 0.5 percent on Monday, settling near $62 a barrel in NY.

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