Oil Rises as Saudis See Market Balanced by June, U.S. Rigs Drop

  • Market will rebalance by end of first half, Al-Falih Says
  • OPEC unlikely to extend supply-cuts agreement beyond June

Oil rose in New York after Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said OPEC probably won’t need to extend its supply cuts beyond June as the market reaches a balance.

Futures rose 0.5 percent in New York after losing 3 percent last week. Rigs targeting crude in the U.S. fell for the first time in 11 weeks, according to data from Baker Hughes Inc. OPEC’s six-month term for supply cuts will likely suffice to balance the market given the level of compliance with the reductions and the outlook for an increase in global consumption, Saudi Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Al-Falih said.

“They are hopeful that the market will be balanced in the first six months but if it’s not, they’re still willing to consider extending the cuts,” Craig Bethune, a fund manager at Manulife Asset Management Ltd. in Toronto who focuses on energy and natural resources investments, said by phone. “They’re keeping their options open.”

Oil futures in New York have advanced 16 percent since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and 11 other nations agreed to trim supply, but a rally above $55 a barrel was short-lived amid concern that rising prices would spur more production. While Middle East producers have signaled they’re sticking to the pledged reductions, the U.S. recently raised this year’s output forecast.

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery gained 27 cents to $52.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1 p.m., when trading halted for the day. There was no settlement on Monday because of the holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Total volume traded was about 74 percent below the 100-day average. The contract lost 64 cents to $52.37 a barrel on Friday.

Brent for March settlement rose 41 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $55.86 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, trading at a $2.43 premium to WTI for the same month. The global benchmark crude fell 56 cents, or 1 percent, to $55.45 on Friday and 2.9 percent over the week -- the biggest decline since November.

Market Rebalancing

“Based on my judgment today, I think it’s unlikely that we will need to continue” production curbs beyond June because the market will have rebalanced, Al-Falih told reporters in Abu Dhabi. Even so, OPEC will reassess the situation when it meets again in May and “all players have indicated their willingness to extend, if necessary,” he said.

The number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. dropped by seven last week to 522, according to data published Jan. 13. Drillers had previously added more than 200 rigs from a low in May, reaching the most machines in a year.

See also: U.S. shale pumps away as OPEC acts on its New Year’s resolution

Oil-market news:

  • Colder weather in Siberia accounted for about 5,000 to 10,000 barrels a day of Russia’s total crude-production decrease this month, Deputy Energy Minister Kirill Molodtsov told reporters on Jan. 13.
  • Iran won’t renegotiate the nuclear deal with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said in Tehran.
  • Nigeria told OPEC its December crude output rose by about 400,000 barrels a day to 1.94 million, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
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