The market braced itself for the incoming data that is expected to show a nine-week straight hike in U.S. crude inventories, while oil prices slightly changed by giving up its gains right after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister gave diverted information on upcoming OPEC production cuts.
According to Saudi’s Oil Minister, Khalid Al-Falih, the agreement to bolster prices and ledge supplies between OPEC and OPEC countries has strengthened demand fundamentals and improved oil market supply. This issue was tackled at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.
Khalid said that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would not allow its contending producers to take advantage of the cuts to subsidize their own investments. The group is scheduled to meet again to discuss the extension of production cuts.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude closed down 6 cents to $53.14, while Brent crude loss 13 cents at $55.88 per barrel as of 2:33 p.m. ET (1933 GMT). These two benchmarks have traded in both positive and negative territory since the beginning of trading in Asia.
Oil prices came under pressure, driven by U.S. shale’s oil drilling after WTI firmly advanced $50 per barrel in December; this is after the deal with non-OPEC producers and Russia. Prices didn’t move in a $3 band, failing to take off after OPEC unexpectedly implemented the first production cut in eight years.
Between the beginning of November and February 21, fund managers doubled their net long positions in WTI, Brent and options to 951 million barrels, hoping OPEC’s output cuts would elevate prices. Russia pledged to implement its 300,000 bpd share of production cuts before the end of April.