The US tally of active drilling rigs increased by 13 to 870 during the week ended Apr. 28, marking the 12th double-digit rise during 15 straight weeks of gains. The count is now up 466 units since the nadir of the drilling downturn on May 20-27, 2016, and at its highest point since Aug. 28, 2015. Since its last decline, the count is up 211 units.
North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $52 per barrel (b) in March, $3/b lower than the February average. EIA forecasts Brent prices to average $54/b in 2017 and $57/b in 2018. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices are forecast to average $2/b less than Brent prices in both 2017 and 2018.
For 2017, Henry Hub prices are projected to average $3.10/MMBtu, 7 cents above what was indicated in March. The forecast for 2018 stayed steady at $3.45/MMBtu.
China's apparent oil demand rose 5.3% year on year in the first two months of 2017 to 11.65 million b/d on the back of robust economic growth, holiday transportation demand and efforts to build stocks ahead of the refinery maintenance season that started in March.
China, the world’s largest crude oil net importer, increased the share of its crude oil imports from countries outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2016. Of the country’s 7.6 million barrels per day (b/d) of 2016 crude oil imports, 57% came from OPEC countries, led by Saudi Arabia (13% of total imports), Angola (11%), Iraq (10%), and Iran (8%).
China claims almost all of a large stretch of sea between Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Japan. The trouble is, between them, these seven other states all do too.
The light, sweet crude oil contract for May settled above $50/bbl on the New York market Mar. 30 while the May Brent contract settled above $52.90/bbl in London. Prices edged lower on both markets on Mar. 31.
Although Turkey has a lack of energy reserves itself, it is a good transit state and can bring benefit to both itself and the EU through the use of alternative pipelines in different regions. Like Russia, Turkey has both problematic and good relations with the European Union, but unlike Russia it wants to be the part of Euro-Atlantic Security Community.
A group of 44 U.S. onshore-focused oil producers issued a record amount of equity in 2016. In the fourth quarter of 2016, capital expenditure for these companies was $4.9 billion (72%) higher than in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Barclays Commodities Research said its analysts still believe oil prices could rise to $60/bbl in the second quarter assuming inventory draws and the OPEC production cut remains in place. “However, this would likely be temporary, and we forecast prices in the mid $50s/bbl in the second half 2017,” Barclays said.