Oil Falls to One-Week Low as OPEC Supply Climbs, Rig Count Grows

  • Libyan crude output increases to 560,000 barrels a day: NOC
  • U.S. oil rig count gains seventh week to most since February

Oil Shorts Tumble as Bears Quickly Exit the Market

Oil fell to a one-week low as OPEC members added supply and U.S. producers increased drilling, threatening to compound a global surplus.

Futures dropped 0.8 percent in New York. Libyan output expanded to 560,000 barrels a day, according to the National Oil Corp., up from 540,000 last week. Iran repeated plans to boost production to 4 million barrels a day. Nigeria aims to raise output by 400,000 barrels a day to 2.2 million, Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said in New Delhi. Rigs targeting crude in the U.S. rose for a seventh week to the highest since February, Baker Hughes Inc. said. 

Oil has fluctuated near $50 a barrel amid uncertainty about whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will implement an agreement to reduce supply. An OPEC committee will meet later this month to try and resolve differences over how much individual members should pump. The details of how supply will be reduced needs to be finalized by the group’s next meeting in Vienna on Nov. 30.

"There’s a growing recognition that OPEC will have a hard time getting their act together," said Thomas Finlon, director of Energy Analytics Group LLC in Wellington, Florida.

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery slipped 41 cents to settle at $49.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It’s the lowest close since Oct. 7. Total volume traded was 5.8 percent below the 100-day average.

Iranian Plans

Brent for December fell 43 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $51.52 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude closed at a $1.15 premium to December WTI.

For a story on oil speculators boosting bullish bets on WTI, click here.

Iran is seeking to pump 4 million barrels a day within two weeks, up from 3.89 million now, Ali Kardor, the managing director of National Iranian Oil Co., said at a conference in Tehran. The country is targeting an average daily output of 4.28 million barrels of crude and 1 million barrels of condensate within four years, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said.

"There have been a lot of bearish OPEC headlines," said Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York. "The market is going to move up and down on OPEC headlines until questions are answered at the meeting on Nov. 30."

Drilling Activity

American drillers added four rigs to 432 last week, Baker Hughes said Friday. Explorers have added more than 100 rigs since an expansion began in June. 

U.S. crude supplies rose to 474 million barrels in the week ended Oct. 7, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s the highest for that time of year since the EIA began publishing weekly data in 1982. The agency is projected to report on Wednesday that stockpiles rose 2.1 million barrels last week, according to the median of analyst responses in a Bloomberg survey.

“The U.S. rig count continues to grow,” said Hamza Khan, an analyst at ING Bank NV in Amsterdam. “The continual increase in the number of rigs does suggest that the upside in crude prices should be capped, with the threat of U.S. oil output returning.”

Money managers reduced bets on lower WTI prices by more than half in the past three weeks as OPEC agreed to its first deal to cut output in eight years. That drove net length to the highest since July 2014 in the week ended Oct. 11, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Brent longs also rose, leaving the combined length of the two benchmark contracts at the highest in at least five years.

"There are an awful lot of longs in the market," Yawger said. "If prices continue to fall we could see them exit rather quickly."

Oil-market news:

  • Iran is ramping up efforts to woo foreign investment to its energy industry, with a request for companies to submit documents to pre-qualify as bidders to develop the country’s oil and natural gas fields.
  • India’s billionaire Ruia brothers agreed to sell a 98 percent stake in their refinery unit to Russia’s Rosneft PJSC and a consortium of Trafigura Group and United Capital Partners for about $13 billion.
Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
LEARN MORE