Oil prices remain steady as rise in US rig numbers counters OPEC cuts

Oil prices have remained steady as an increase in US rig numbers countered support offered by OPEC-led supply cuts.

Benchmark Brent oil rose by three cents at $62.13 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped 27 cents to $52.45, Reuters reported.

Oil prices were further steady over worries about demand due to the slow progress in trade talks between the US and China.

JBC Energy was quoted by the news agency as saying: “Oil prices are still trying to figure out what lead to follow. On the one hand, there is the OPEC+ cut story, now coupled with increasing issues around Venezuelan supply.”

JBC Energy added that the US-Sino trade talks also look like they are not progressing very fast.

A weekly report by Baker Hughes said that the US energy companies increased the number of oil rigs to seven in the week ending 8 February, bringing the total rig count to 854.

This represents a further increase in crude production in the country, which is already producing a record 11.9Mbpd.

WTI prices were also weighed down after Phillips 66 closed a crude distillation unit (CDU) at its Wood River refinery in Illinois due to fire. The CDU has a 120,000bpd capacity.

Comprising OPEC and its members, including Russia, the group known as OPEC+ has retained output to prevent excess supply.

Effective from January, the deal is aimed at cutting 1.2Mbpd until the end of June.

This agreement will be reviewed at a meeting to be held between OPEC and its allies on 17 and 18 April in Vienna.