Oil slides on speculation U.S. surge will undermine OPEC cuts

By Milana Vinn on 3/13/2018

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Oil slid in New York amid concern that global demand might not absorb swelling U.S. supplies.

Futures fell 1.1%, and April futures slipped below May contracts. The U.S. government expects major shale regions to boost output by 131,000 bopd in April, spurring fears that surging supplies will undermine OPEC’s efforts to clear a glut. Analysts forecast a third consecutive increase in U.S. inventories. The American Petroleum Institute will release its inventory report later Tuesday.

“There is a good chance you will get a new all time record in production,” Bob Yawger, director of futures division at Mizuho Securities, said in a phone interview. “That is going to add barrels.”

Oil has struggled to recover losses from last month’s broader market slump after topping $66/bbl in January. While a brighter economic outlook has underpinned demand expectations, expanding American production remains a challenge to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, which are trying to prop up prices via output curbs.

West Texas Intermediate for April delivery lost 65 cents to settle at $60.71/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The spread between the first two contracts settled at minus 4 cents, the first time it closed at a discount since Jan. 22.

Brent for May settlement sank 31 cents to settle $64.64/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark widened to a $3.89 premium to May WTI.

Production from shale regions will reach 6.95 MMbopd next month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its monthly drilling report. The Permian basin is seen leading the way with an 80,000/bbl increase. Total American output has passed 10 MMbopd, beating a record set in 1970.

“The EIA report yesterday about the expected increase in shale output next month certainly weighed on things,” John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital, said in a phone interview.

U.S. crude inventories probably expanded by 2.5 MMbbl in the week through March 9, according to a Bloomberg survey before EIA data on Wednesday. Meanwhile, stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI futures, probably were little changed after 11 straight weeks of declines.

Oil-market news. Futures sliding into contango is just one indicator signaling that prices may come under pressure President Donald Trump, ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said he had disagreed with the chief U.S. diplomat over a nuclear accord with Iran. Workers at Libya’s Zawiya oil-export terminal started a strike on Monday over delayed salary payments, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

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