Brent crude oil prices lower despite Gulf of Mexico idling

Oct. 9 (UPI) — Crude oil prices were drifting into negative territory early Monday on suggestions that more U.S. shale oil could move into the global marketplace.

Crude oil prices have been on a general downward trend for most of October, eating into September gains sparked by the upheaval that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma brought to the U.S. energy sector. Markets so far have shrugged off the impact from now post-tropical cyclone Nate, which idled about 90 percent of the total oil production capacity in the Gulf of Mexico.

An emailed report from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch said Monday that recent gains in crude oil prices could help drive U.S. shale production through next year.

“Given its short-cycle nature and large sensitivity to price, the recent strengthening in oil prices to over $ 50 per barrel on a calendar 2018 basis could well stem the decline in rig activity, and positively impact production within six to nine months,” the report read.

U.S. shale oil production matters for traders watching the global balance between supply and demand. Dozens of major oil producing nations are working alongside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to drain the surplus on the five-year average for global crude oil inventories with managed production declines.

The BofA-Merrill Lynch report said U.S. shale oil production should increase 470,000 barrels per day this year and another 690,000 barrels per day next year. Growth slows, however, by fourth quarter 2018.

The price for Brent crude oil was down 0.56 percent at 9:00 a.m. EDT to $ 55.31 per barrel. The price for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was inching slightly higher, gaining 0.34 percent from Friday to $ 49.46 per barrel.

WTI is still trading in the November contract, while Brent moved to December. The difference, or spread, between Brent and WTI makes U.S. oil competitive on the global market and BofA-Merrill Lynch said it saw few future constraints for U.S. exports.

Elsewhere, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Monday it is anticipating steady growth in major economies like the United States and Germany.

“Composite leading indicators, designed to anticipate turning points in economic activity relative to trend six to nine months ahead, continue to point to stable growth momentum in the OECD area as a whole,” its Monday report read.

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