Oil prices rise on decline in United States drilling, Syria conflict

Higher oil prices are allowing US shale producers to hedge and lock in drilling programmes

Higher oil prices are allowing US shale producers to hedge and lock in drilling programmes

The price of oil collapsed from near $120 a barrel in June 2014 due to weak demand, a strong dollar and booming USA shale production.

In a separate report, the Swiss financial services company UBS said it expects oil prices to sink later this years as USA drillers respond to $60 a barrel oil and push global output higher than demand.

Crude futures for Brent and West Texas Intermediate also recorded remarkable growth a year ago, with the global benchmark increasing 22%, to roughly $55/Bbl, and the US benchmark growing by 18%, despite a significant increase in USA oil production.

Over the last 3 months, Brent crude has gone from close to $55 a barrel to $70 a barrel, which is a good 27 per cent jump in price.

Earlier, oil minister said the oil market was expected to re-balance towards the end of 2018 and any strategy to exit a deal on supply cuts between OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers would be gradual. Some did fold or put production on hold but recent highs mean that shale companies are going back online.

OPEC's warning and higher output estimates for non-members underlines the continuing report fears by big producer nations that the current rebound in prices - which - could trigger a flood of new United States supply, undermining efforts by global producers to curb output.

While the bulls remain in charge of oil market sentiment, reality is not far away as USA production continues to rise in response to the surge in prices. At the same time, the IEA forecast for global oil demand to remain unchanged at 1.3 month over month barrels per day.

"Relentless growth should see the US hit historic highs above 10 million bpd, overtaking Saudi Arabia and rivalling Russian Federation during the course of 2018 - provided OPEC/non-OPEC restraints remain in place", the IEA said. West Texas Intermediate, the USA benchmark for the price of oil, was down 0.16 percent to $63.87 per barrel. To make matters worse, another year of production cuts would have little effect on oil inventories - which the agency says are still 90 million barrels above OPEC's target.

The news agency on Thursday pointed out that OPEC publishes two sets of production figures, and the 216,000 bpd drop (about 29 percent) was issued Caracas; by contrast, a consensus figure from secondary sources pegs the drop at 82,000 bpd, or 14 percent.

Baker Hughes (BHGE) on Friday reported that the number of active oil-drilling rigs (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/baker-hughes-reports-a-weekly-decline-in-the-us-oil-rig-count-2018-01-19) fell by 5 to 747 this week, though that followed a rise of 10 rigs a week earlier.

In a further sign excess supply is easing, OPEC said inventories in developed economies declined by 16.6 million barrels in November to 2.933 billion barrels, 133 million above the five-year average. Oil production in the US increased by 2.7 percent, or 258,000 barrels per day, to 9.75 million barrels. OPEC and its allies also want to find a way to wind down their limits on production- which are costing these nation's millions of dollars every day as prices rise-without spooking investors.

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