Oil prices stable on OPEC-led production cuts, but bloated inventories weigh
SINGAPORE – Oil prices were stable early on Friday, with OPEC-led production cuts supporting the market while soaring US fuel inventories were weighing on crude.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $53.08 per barrel at 0106 GMT, up 8 cents from their last settlement. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up 3 cents at $55.66 a barrel.
Both crude futures have traded within a $5 range since the beginning of the year, and traders said this was due to competing price drivers. “Oil prices continue to struggle to break out of the current range,” ANZ bank said on Friday.
“The push and pull between competing forces in the crude oil market continued overnight. Despite the stronger US-dollar .DXY and lingering concerns about US (oil) inventories, traders returned their focus to the OPEC production cuts being implemented at the moment,” it added.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers including Russia have agreed to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) during the first half of 2017 in a bid to rein in a global fuel supply overhang.
There was widespread scepticism that all producers would actually make the promised cuts, but compliance with the announced reductions is now estimated to be between 80 and 90 percent as especially OPEC’s de-facto leader Saudi Arabia has enforced sharp production cuts. And this is likely to remain until the release of OPEC data next week.
Despite this, oil markets remain bloated as inventories especially in the United States are brimming and rising US drilling activity is pushing up production there as well. As a result, WTI and Brent crude oil futures are 4 to 5 percent below their early January peaks. -Reuters