Oil Drops as US Drilling Growth Threatens to Counter OPEC Cuts

Oil supply deficit in first half likely despite rising stocks

Oil prices fell more than one per cent yesterday as investors made record cuts to bet on rising prices after strong drilling data from the United States fed concerns about the effectiveness of production cuts led by Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to curb a supply glut, Reuters reported.

Latest U.S. drilling data supported estimates for higher production, with 14 oil rigs added in the week to March 17 to 631, the most since September 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Incorporated said on Friday.

USA drillers boosted the rig count for a 9 straight week by 14 to 631 last week, data from Baker Hughes showed on Friday.

Analysts and industry observers expect uncertainty to loom for the rest of the year as industry assumption remained at US$50 (RM221.50) a barrel.

"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".

At 10.30am GMT on Monday (20 March), prices for West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.56% to $48.03 a barrel, while the cost of a barrel of Brent crude slipped 1.21% to $51.14. Meanwhile, growing USA oil production and inventories weighed on sentiment, as investors braced for a fresh batch of US crude inventories data later this week while the number of active US rigs rose for a ninth straight week.

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Despite OPEC's greater ability to sustain the recent production agreement, a somewhat similar sequence of events is likely to occur now because of shale oil's fast responsiveness to price changes.

Benchmark ten-year treasury yields retreated to 2.475% as U.S. government bond prices rallied as investors digested the Federal Reserve's reluctance to push interest rates up too fast following last week's lift in the funds rate.

USA oil output has risen to over 9.1 million bpd from below 8.5 million bpd in June previous year. The cuts came as prices tumbled below $50 a barrel for the first time this year, and anxious executives discussed rising US rig counts at an industry meeting in Houston.

Gains in production from the United States, and producers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries eager to defend a market share, pushed oil to historic lows past year.

"The continued increase in U.S". Moreover, non-OPEC producers joined in and agreed to cut about 600,000 barrels a day. That said, it appears that there are still opportunities left in the best parts of the US shale oil patch. Oil demand will also continue to rise this year and in the next few years, he said.

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