US oil rises on record OPEC output cut compliance

OPEC has so far surprised the market by showing record compliance with oil-output curbs

US drillers added five oil rigs in the week to February 24, bringing the total count up to 602, the most since October 2015.
US drillers added five oil rigs in the week to February 24, bringing the total count up to 602, the most since October 2015.

US crude oil edged higher for a second day this week, underpinned by high compliance with OPEC's production cuts even as the market remains anchored by rising US production, according to Reuters.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has so far surprised the market by showing record compliance with oil-output curbs, and could improve in coming months as the biggest laggards - the United Arab Emirates and Iraq - pledge to catch up quickly with their targets.

"With the prospect of OPEC extending the current cuts even longer, we would expect to see prices continue to push higher from here," ANZ said in a note.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil added 11 cents, or 0.2%, to $54.16 a barrel, while benchmark Brent crude oil added 17 cents, or 0.3%, to $56.10 a barrel.

For the month, US crude oil is up 2.6% after falling in January, while Brent oil has risen marginally.

Under the deal, OPEC agreed to curb output by about 1.2mn barrels per day (bpd) from January 1, the first cut in eight years. Russia and 10 other non-OPEC producers agreed to cut around half as much.

A Reuters survey of OPEC production later this week will show compliance for February.

Passive investment funds are poised to shift an estimated $2bn from far-term to near-term crude futures over the next week, anticipating an energy market rally as the OPEC output cut slashes supply.

At the same time rising US oil production continues to limit gains.

"Talking about more OPEC cuts, they can't have too much higher cuts as it will lead to more US shale oil coming into the market," said Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Sydney's Ayers Alliance.

US producers boosted crude production to over 9mn bpd during the week ended February 17 for the first time since April 2016 as energy firms search for more oil, according to federal data.

US drillers added five oil rigs in the week to February 24, bringing the total count up to 602, the most since October 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said last week.

A bearish target at $53.37 per barrel has been aborted for US oil, as it seems to have stabilised around a support at $53.99, said Wang Tao, Reuters market analyst for commodities and energy technicals.

Brent oil looks neutral in a range of $55.93-$57.26 per barrel, and an escape could suggest a direction.

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