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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Oil Prices Book Biggest Weekly Loss Since October

Brazil Petrobras rig

Oil prices accumulated a more than 1-percent decline this week, pressured by U.S. production growth, despite the variety of bullish demand forecasts and data about tightening global supply. A record-high number of long positions on Brent and WTI also helped fuel a concern about the immediate future of benchmark prices.

The ratio of long to short positions on Brent and WTI, Reuters’ John Kemp noted in his latest column, now stands at 10:1, compared with 1.60:1 at end-June 2017.

The Energy Information Administration reported yesterday that overall oil production in the Untied States had hit 9.75 million barrels daily last week, up by 258,000 bpd from the previous week and a whopping 806,000 bpd from a year earlier. At this rate of weekly growth, U.S. drillers could hit the 10-million-bpd mark much sooner than expected unless they deliberately decide to rein in production to stop prices from falling. As this figure is comprised of numerous individual companies, a concerted effort to rein in prices is highly unlikely.

Adding to the negative reaction was a reported 258,000-bpd build in gasoline inventories that took the joy out of a ninth consecutive weekly decline in crude oil inventories, and not a small one, at 6.9 million barrels. Related: Peak Oil Demand Is A Slow-Motion Train Wreck

The weekly price decline for West Texas Intermediate could come in as high as 1.8 percent, MarketWatch notes, and Brent could book an accumulative loss of the same size. “The market appears a bit overextended after a 30% rally, with barely a move lower, over the past three months,” a Bank Wealth management investment strategist, Rob Haworth, told MarketWatch.

Another analyst, Oanda market strategist Jeffrey Halley, chimed in, telling Reuters that crude futures had been at “overbought levels for an extended period as record speculative longs built on the futures markets”.

Even so, the dominant view seems to be that there is enough support for prices and the downward potential is limited for the moment. At the same time, so is the upward potential, because of the OPEC cuts.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh G Salameh on January 19 2018 said:
    This is no more than profit taking. The oil prices will soon resume their upward trend.

    But what is more surprising is the announcement by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) that US oil production had hit 9.75 million barrels a day (mbd) last week, a 806,000 b/d from a year earlier. This means that US oil production in 2017 was 8.944 mbd and not the 10.5 mbd the EIA and the IEA have been claiming almost daily with the intention of dampening the rise of the oil prices.

    It also means that their most recent projections of shale oil production averaging some 10.5 mbd in 2018 and rising to 11 mbd are so exaggerated that they should be taken with a huge pinch of salt.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • John Brown on January 19 2018 said:
    WTI ended the week over $63. That's pretty good in a market that still has a glut of oil sloshing around, and millions of barrels a day of readily available production idled by OPEC/RUSSIA in their desperate attempt to balance the market, which means artificially restrict supply to drive the price up. Even that after the past year hasn't eliminated a glut of oil on the market. It does have U.S. shale oil production of oil and gas surging, and with oil over $60 a barrel that will only continue and outstrip every forecast. There is no reason for a barrel of oil to be more than $30 to $40, except that the entire industry and support industries want higher oil prices so much. Its kind of amazing how the fact of a glut, massive idle capacity, and rising U.S. production can be ignored and the price of oil pushed to over $60, but its certainly not bad for the USA. $63 a barrel isn't enough to choke off economic expansion in the USA, and its fantastic for the oil industry which has a positive impact on the overall economy creating high paying jobs, and paying off those loans for equipment etc.
    Over $60 a barrel loan is also a lifeline for heavily subsidized renewables. It allow them to continue to gain market share, and as that happens they can continue to figure out how to cut cost and become more economic. Its kind of funny, but the higher the price of oil, in a world where oil is NOT a scarce resource hastens the day when oil won't be the worlds major source of energy. Its best if the USA gets its oil out of the ground when oil is over $50 and $60 a barrel and let OPEC/Russia sit on theirs.

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