Oil Prices Relatively Steady, Despite Surprise Crude Draw (USO)

Posted September 28, 2017

Nonetheless, Brent is set for a 22% gain in the third quarter of this year, its largest rise in the period between July and September since 2004, thanks in part to coordinated output cuts. "This bout of profit-taking and subsequent pullback was to be expected given the extent of Monday's price bounce", said Stephen Brennock, oil analyst at PVM, in a Wednesday note.

So at this time, you have to know what kind of player you are in this market.

But scratch beneath the bullish views and a different picture emerged.

PublicInvest Research has maintained its "overweight" recommendation on the oil and gas (O&G) sector, premised on the stabilisation of prices at higher levels, thereby encouraging a return in activity.

That's largely because the risks to a sustained price rally seem larger than the drivers now.

Other signs there could be a restriction in oil supplies has also been pushing up prices.

Analysts said oil prices seemed supported by the notion that OPEC member countries will be more disciplined with their production hereon, after experiencing one of the worst price slumps in history from a three-year long glut in world crude supplies.

While there is debate as to how effective the cuts have actually been in re-balancing the market, any sign that OPEC and its allies, including major exporter Russian Federation, are ending their production discipline, would be taken as bearish for prices.

November WTI crude oil futures settled at $52.14, up $0.26 or +0.50% and December Brent crude oil finished the day at $57.57, down $0.35 or -0.60%.

U.S. crude supplies have been rising as imports and production recover in the aftermath of Harvey, while refineries have been slower to restart.

North Sea oil producers seized on surging crude prices this week to hedge output, joining their United States shale oil peers in locking in a floor for future revenue. For Texans, meanwhile, about 9.9 percent more were on the payroll in the oil and gas industry than past year, though the level is still about 28 percent lower than the peak in late 2014.

In the week ended September 15, 2017, USA commercial crude oil inventories rose 4.6 MMbbls (million barrels) to 472.8 MMbbls for the third-straight weekly rise.

"The combination of muted supply growth and strong demand is helping prices higher", said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group.

Janet Kong, regional CEO of BP's eastern hemisphere supply and trading, warned Monday that while the oil supply was continuing to rebalance, OPEC should extend its current phase of output cuts beyond March 2018.

If this keeps USA oil prices relatively low, analysts say it could encourage more exports, which could lift prices for American crude closer to what it trades for on global markets.