Global crude prices fell sharply Friday amid a stronger U.S. dollar and investor concern that President Donald Trump's decision to leave the Paris Accord on climate change could spark increased drilling and production rates from American oil companies.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for July delivery were marked 3% lower at $46.91 per barrel in early European trading while Brent crude contracts for the same month, the global benchmark, were seen 2.88% lower at $49.17 per barrel.
"Today we are jump-starting Alaska energy and putting US on track for American Energy Dominance. This order makes #Alaska open for business!," said U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on his verified Twitter account after signing an order that could potentially increase oil drilling on the coastal region of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, known as "1002 area", and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the largest federally-controlled block of land in the United States.
The stronger dollar also put downward pressure on global oil prices, which extended losses even after a 6.4 million dip in U.S. crude stocks published by the Energy Information Administration yesterday. However, the ongoing increase in U.S. production facilities, particularly along the Gulf coast, and the consistent rise in oil output over the past two years has investors betting on a glut in global supplies that will offset OPEC's recent agreement to extend 1.8 million in production cuts into 2018.
Houston-based oilfield services provider Baker Hughes (BHI) will publish its regular rig count of U.S. oil and gas producers later Friday, after data showing last week's total rose for the 19th consecutive time to a total of 908 units.
Two oil rigs were added over the course of the week ending May 26, the group said, while five more natural gas rigs came online and miscellaneous rigs remained level, Baker Hughes said. Meanwhile, the company's U.S. offshore count is flat this week after climbing by two in each of the previous three frames. The offshore count, now at 23 overall, is down one rig year over year.
"Here the US rig count is likely to be the most visible near term catalyst, whilst some investors are now looking to 2Q commentaries from the US E&Ps, hoping to hear that cost inflation is starting bit," wrote Goldman Sachs analysts in a client note Friday. "However, with continued evidence that OPEC countries are growing capacity even whilst cutting production (Saudi tenders following on from Iran news earlier in the week), we remain more constructive on the front end of the curve, leaving us with a more quality bias in the equities." Goldman said Total SA (TOT) - Get Total SA Report and Lundin Mining Corporation (LUNMF) remain key picks.