OIL PRICES: $54
OGJ - Light, sweet crude oil prices for April dropped modestly Feb. 24 but still settled at about $54/bbl on Feb. 24 on the New York market despite a climbing US rig count. The US oil futures benchmark has traded at $50-55/bbl for weeks.
Meanwhile, Brent crude oil prices on the London market have been unable to break above the high $50s. Analysts said a steady increase in US oil production and rising number of US oil rigs working is putting a damper on any higher oil prices.
Prices gained support during 2017 after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries started cutting production in January. Some non-OPEC producers also agreed to cut production.
The US drilling rig count increased 3 units during the week ended Feb. 24 following 5 weeks of double-digit gains, Baker Hughes Inc. said on Feb. 24. The overall US count stood at 754.
US oil-directed rigs gained 5 units to 602. Rigs targeting natural gas dropped 2 units to 151, up 70 since Aug. 26, 2016. One rig considered unclassified is actively drilling.
The crude oil contract for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped 46¢ on Feb. 24 to $53.99/bbl. The May contract was down 44¢ to $54.32/bbl.
The natural gas price for March settled at a rounded $2.63/MMbtu, up 1¢. The cash gas price at the Henry Hub in Cushing, Okla., closed at $2.49/MMbtu, down 11¢.
Heating oil for March declined nearly 2¢ to a rounded $1.64/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for March fell 1¢ to a rounded $1.52/gal.
The Brent crude contract for April on London's ICE was down 59¢ to $55.99/bbl. The Brent May contract dropped 51¢ to $56.31/bbl. Gas oil for March closed at $494.50/tonne, down $5.50.
The average price for OPEC's basket of benchmark crudes on Feb. 24 was $53.61/bbl, down 34¢.
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AN - China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is willing to invest $3 billion in its existing oil and gas operation in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Sunday following a meeting with the Chinese in Abuja.
REUTERS - Production at Libya’s giant Sharara oil field was expected to fall by at least 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Saturday after two staff were abducted in an attack by an unknown group, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said.
IMF - Output grew by 3.8 percent in 2017, underpinned by a resilient non-hydrocarbon sector, with robust implementation of GCC-funded projects as well as strong activity in the financial, hospitality, and education sectors. The banking system remains stable with large capital buffers. Growth is projected to decelerate over the medium term.
IMF - Higher oil prices and short-term portfolio inflows have provided relief from external and fiscal pressures but the recovery remains challenging. Inflation declined to its lowest level in more than two years. Real GDP expanded by 2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of last year. However, activity in the non-oil non-agricultural sector remains weak as lower purchasing power weighs on consumer demand and as credit risk continues to limit bank lending.