Singapore/Hong Kong: The oil market is more concerned about US shale supplies than any repercussions from a crackdown that’s enveloped royals and billionaires in Saudi Arabia, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (Opec) biggest producer and the world’s top crude exporter.
The Saturday purge that brings Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman closer than ever to power signals his nation will persist with a strategy he’s backed—limit output as part of a deal with other producers aimed at clearing a global glut. Oil was already pricing in expectations for that policy to continue even before the crackdown, meaning production from American shale fields remains the primary source of uncertainty for the market.
Speculation that the Opec and allies including Russia will prolong the output-cut deal past its March expiry has sustained prices in a bull market, with futures in London climbing about 12% over the past four weeks. Prince Mohammed said last month he backed lengthening the curbs. Iraq and Kuwait have also signalled support. After rising $1.45 a barrel on Friday, Brent crude’s up less than 40 cents following the weekend Saudi purge.
“The purge in Saudi Arabia has been at the centre of attention over the weekend but for investors in the oil market, it has been an expected scenario since the current crown prince took over," Will Yun, a commodities analyst at Hyundai Futures Corp., said by phone from Seoul. “More importantly, the market has its eyes set on the changes surrounding US shale, such as the cut in drilling, as well as the extension of Opec output cuts."
While the number of rigs drilling for crude in the US slipped by eight to 729 last week, the total count is 62% higher than a year earlier. Total American production climbed by 46,000 barrels a day to 9.55 million in the week ended 27 October, near the highest level in more than two years, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.
Brent crude, the benchmark for more than half the world’s oil, was up 20 cents at $62.27 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange by 1:32 pm Singapore time. West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, rose 13 cents to $55.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“Anything to do with Saudi Arabia is a bit unsettling for the oil market, but there’s no indication at this stage of any issues that may lead to a supply disruption," said Ric Spooner, an analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “Oil is continuing to probe for a level that will attract new short-term production, particularly from US shale, and we haven’t yet seen evidence of that." Bloomberg