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US drillers added oil rigs for the fifth consecutive week taking the number of active oil rigs to 597 — up nearly 45 per cent from a year ago to the highest since October 2015.

US drillers brought 6 rigs back online in the week ended February 17, according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes. In all, drillers have brought 72 oil rigs back online so far this year in response to a stabilisation in crude prices.

Oil continued to hold its losses, with West Texas Intermediate, the US oil marker, down 0.3 per cent to $53.18 a barrel, while Brent crude, the global benchmark, slid 0.1 per cent to $55.58 a barrel.

Saudia Arabia led-Opec and non-members including Russia agreed to cut output by 1.8m barrels a day for six months this year in an effort to bolster crude prices. And Opec said it curbed output by 1.1m bpd last month. However, US drillers appear to be ratcheting up production, with the Energy Information Administration estimating that US oil output will rise by 80,000 barrels a day to to 4.87m bpd in March.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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