Oil prices fall on rise in U.S. drilling, strong dollar


(Reuters) – prices fell on Monday, pulled down by a rising rig count in the United States, a strong dollar and record OPEC-output which comes amid slowing economic growth that could erode fuel demand.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $50.20 per barrel at 0710 GMT, down 15 cents from their last settlement.

Traders said that WTI was pulled down by another rise in U.S. drilling activity.

A report on Friday by services provider Baker Hughes showed U.S. drillers added four rigs in the week to Oct. 14. It was the 16th week in a row that drillers had gone without making cuts, indicating more production to come.

International benchmark Brent crude futures were also down, dipping 8 cents from their last settlement to $51.87 per barrel.

Traders said that a seven-month high of the dollar against a basket of other leading currencies on Monday, which came on the back of an expected hike in U.S. interest rates later this year, was also weighing on crude prices.

Since is traded in dollar, a stronger greenback makes it more expensive for countries using other currencies at home to purchase fuel, potentially undermining demand.

Brent was also weighed by fresh production records from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which pumped out a record 33.6 million barrels of crude per day in September.

“Record supply from OPEC year-to-date, weaker GDP estimates, and still elevated inventories cause us to lower and flatten our price outlook,” Bernstein Energy said in a note to clients on Monday.

“We reduce our Brent forecast to $60 per barrel in 2017 ($70 per barrel before) and $70 per barrel in 2018 ($80 per barrel before),” it added.

Despite Monday’s falls, analysts said that traders were cautious about driving the market much further down, largely because of a plan by OPEC to cut output in an initiative to rein in a production overhang, which currently sees around half a million barrels of crude pumped every day in excess of demand.

OPEC is scheduled to meet on Nov. 30 to discuss a production cut of around 1 million barrels per day. The producer cartel hopes non-OPEC members, particularly Russia, will join a potential cut.

“With (non-OPEC member) Russia expressing an interest to join the agreement, investors are reluctant to get too bearish,” ANZ bank said on Monday.