Oil prices ticked down Monday morning, dragged by a large increase in US rig counts. Brent crude had dropped to $69.73/bbl by 09.00AM GMT, 0.2% down from last week’s three-year high of just below $70/bbl. At the same time WTI held firmer to last week’s gains, with only 0.05% of losses, at $64.31/bbl, as continued declines in inventories offer support.
Rig counts leapfrogged by 10 units last week, highest weekly change since late June. Producers rushed to book rigs as crude prices support drilling economics, albeit higher crude prices also push the upstream value chain higher. The strong crude price rally in Q4 2017 and continued gains in 2018, are likely to reflect in US drilling activity in the coming weeks/months, leading to higher output of crude oil.
The EIA projects that unconventional production of crude oil, which is estimated to have reached 6.31 million bpd in December, will climb to 6.41 million bpd in January, a net gain of 100,000 bpd m-o-m. The Permian basin continues to propel the production boost, with other plays trailing significantly.
Speculators in the US built further on their net long position the previous week, according to CFTC data. Money managers lifted their net long position by 41.4 million bbls w-o-w, to 438 million bbls, as longs soared by 37 million bbls, while shorts were trimmed by 4.4 million bbls w-o-w.
Producers continue to mount long positions as well, with a 17.7 million bbls gain on the net position, which now is barely short by 9 million bbls, indicative of expectations of higher prices.
The Oil Research Team
Supply Chain & Commodities Research