Short Sellers Circle Oil and Gas Stocks as Crude Price Climbs

02 May, 2018, 01:35 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $67.89 a barrel down 21 cents or about 0.3 per cent from their last settlement

Oil prices rose on Monday, bouncing off early losses as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had proof that "Iran lied" about its nuclear weapons capability, and that he was sure U.S. President Donald Trump would do "the right thing" in reviewing the country's nuclear deal with western powers.

The sentiment Thursday shifted from earlier in the week, when oil prices fell after Trump said the US and France could reach an agreement "fairly quickly" on the Iran nuclear deal.

Brent crude futures rose 6 cents to $74.80 a barrel, a 0.1 percent gain, by 1:11 p.m. EDT (1711 GMT).

Crude has rallied this month amid heightened geopolitical tensions and Trump's indications that he might scrap the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

While US defense secretary Jim Mattis said last week that there's been no decision on the nuclear deal, the nervousness around a potential breakdown in the accord is also spilling over into the physical oil market.

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Oil has risen 15% in the last four weeks due to expectations the US will re-impose sanctions against major oil producer and OPEC member Iran.

"Although the overall United States oil rig count rose by five, the prolific Permian region saw oil rigs decline by one", Anthony Headrick, energy market analyst and commodities futures broker at CHS Hedging LLC, said in an email.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 23 cents on the day at $68.33 a barrel. Prices climbed as high as $75.47 last week, levels not seen since November, 2014.

Concerns that the USA may reimpose sanctions on Iran helped underpin the markets this week as this represents a threat to supply.

While multiple June loading Nigerian cargoes had changed hands, traders said most of these were not yet promised to end users, meaning they could be re-offered.

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Money managers hold record positions in Brent crude futures and options, lured in by the hefty premium of the front-month June contract over subsequent months that makes it profitable to invest in crude over the longer term.

Angola, once Africa's biggest crude producer, is suffering sharp declines at under-invested offshore fields, with output dropping nearly three times as much as the nation pledged in an accord with fellow Opec members.

Growing U.S. crude production and stockpiles have weighed on the market. USA crude stockpiles probably increased by 1.25 million barrels, according to the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. USA crude oil inventories rose by 2.2 million barrels (MMBbl) in the week ended April 20, to 429.74 MMBbl.

USA drillers added five oil rigs in the week to April 27, bringing the total count to 825, the highest level since March 2015, General Electric's Baker Hughes energy services firm said.

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