Oil falls 1 percent as bullish bets fade with United States output rise
21 March, 2017, 07:58 | Author: Leticia Walters
On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for May delivery lost 56 cents to settle at $48.22 a barrel, while on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent lost 14 cents to settle at $51.63 a barrel.
"We are maintaining our this year's average Brent crude price at US$50 a barrel as we see more uncertainty with crude oil prices towards the downside bias", said an analyst at MIDF Research.
A possible extension of OPEC's crude oil production cut deal in 2H17 could support oil prices.
Oil prices fell back Monday, set to erase the prior week's gain, as another rise in active US oil rigs raised concerns over growing domestic production and some analysts anxious that a change to the G-20 policy statement may impact global trade.
Reacting to the oil glut, financial oil traders cut their net long U.S. crude futures and options positions in the week to March 14, the third consecutive reduction, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.
"The continued increase in U.S. oil rigs adds to the bearish sentiment", he added. "Over the coming one and a half to two years, we're probably going to be back at the previous high levels of production". This means that speculators last week cut more than 150,000 contracts betting on firmer oil prices, a record high. OPEC was also able to work out a deal with a consortium of non-OPEC producers such as Russian Federation and Venezuela to cut their production.
However, other market commentators expect oil markets will tighten soon, arguing that the Opec-led cuts will only start to take effect from April. "The seven major oil and gas basins in the country would have an output of more than almost five million barrels a day collectively", it said. Iraq now outputs about 4.3 million barrels a day. However, if OPEC doesn't extend its deal, it could pressure crude oil prices.
But Iraq has lagged behind other Opec members in its efforts to reduce output.
The data from the United States thwarts the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) deal with Russian Federation and other producers to cut production to prop up prices. After forecasting production declines for 2017, US federal data instead show steady gains and production so far in March has been at around 9 million barrels per day. Russian Federation is expected to reach its pledged 300,000 b/d cut only by the end of April, while some OPEC members are also busting their quotas, prominent among them Iraq and the UAE.
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The May contract of West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, the U.S. benchmark of oil prices, fell 1.6% to $48.54 per barrel. The chart above shows how oil prices have fared since OPEC announced its supply cut a year ago until date.
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