Oil Prices Slip as Market Weighs U.S. Production Against OPEC Cuts

Last week, Baker Hughes said the number of rigs drilling for oil in the USA increased by 15 last week, the 12th gain in 13 weeks.

Prices have been in a tight range of $50 to $55 a barrel for much of the past month, as traders weighed OPEC's cut against a rebound in US drilling by shale oil producers.

Oil Prices Slip as Market Weighs U.S. Production Against OPEC Cuts

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in March CLH7, +0.56% traded at $53.88 a barrel, up $0.34, or 0.6% in the Globex electronic session.

Crude-oil futures extended gains on Thursday, as signs that major oil producers have followed through on a deal to cut production offset expectations that other countries will pump more. OPEC agreed to cut a collective 1.2 million barrels per day from its production and non-members agreed to about half that.

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"The current sentiment is bullish", said Tamas Varga, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates, but added, "We are still firmly within the ranges". Increased supplies coming from the USA run the risk of undercutting OPEC's effort to dry out the market. The geopolitical risk around the situation is being considered by traders as a potential factor that could again affect Iran's global oil exports.

On Wednesday, investors awaited weekly data on US oil inventories due later in the day.

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Global oil output was cut by 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, citing preliminary data. Estimates from analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal showed USA oil inventories are projected to have increased by an average of 2.9 million barrels in the week ended Friday.

Reuters reported on Thursday that the Trump administration is prepared to roll out new measures against more than two dozen Iranian targets following Tehran's ballistic missile test, according to sources familiar with the matter.

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