US drillers add most oil rigs since January

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US drillers added the most oil rigs since January last week, further fuelling concerns that rising US production will frustrate Opec’s efforts to rebalance the oil market.

US drillers brought 21 oil rigs back online last week, oilfield services company Baker Hughes said on Friday. Drillers have now added oil rigs every week this year barring one to bring the total operational rigs to 652, compared with 372 a year ago. It is also the highest level since September 2015.

The rally in crude prices after Saudia Arabia-led Opec and non-members like Russia struck a deal late last year to curb crude output by 1.8m barrels per day in the first half of 2017 have prompted US drillers to move mothballed rigs back online.

Stocks of US crude have reached record highs and concerns about Russian compliance to the Opec deal have once again push oil back down, with Brent crude, the global oil marker, falling briefly below the $50 a barrel mark earlier this week — for the first time since November.

Oil prices appeared little changed following the data, with West Texas Intermediate, the US crude marker, up 0.2 per cent to $47.78 a barrel, while Brent was flat at $50.59 a barrel.

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