Oil Prices Rally As Rig US Count Hits Historic Low

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Global oil prices soared again on Friday, with US futures ending May with fantastical record monthly gains on hopes global output would fall fast enough to meet a rise in global consumption.

Those hopes were supported by a fall in the number of US and Canadian oil and gas rigs to record lows which signal further production falls in the world’s biggest crude producer.

Baker Hughes on Friday reported the number of active US oil rigs dropped by 15 to 222 last week. The total active US rig count also fell by 17 to 301.

That was an all-time low for a statistical series going back to 1940, according to Reuters.

It was also 683 rigs, or 69%, below this time last year and was the fourth week in a row the US count fell to a fresh record low.

For the month, the US oil and gas rigs in use dropped by 164, its third monthly decline in a row.

The Canadian rig count fell by one to an all-time low of 20 last week, according to Baker Hughes.

Those figures helped West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery rise $US1.78, or 5.3%, to settle at $US35.49 a barrel on Nymex.

The price of front-month US benchmark WTI futures rose 88.4% for May, for its best month on record, based on data going back to 1983.

It also put the price of WTI above the settlement price for Brent for the first time in years – a sign of the tensions still in the market. WTI usually sells to a discount to Brent because of shipping and transport factors 9costs, method of shipment and delivery)

Global marker crude, Brent saw its expiring July contract price edge up 4 cents, or 0.1%, to end at $US35.33 a barrel in Europe on Friday. It expired at the end of the session.

Brent front-month prices rose 39.8% for the month, which was the strongest monthly rise since March 1999. The new front-month August contract settled at $37.84, up $1.81, or 5%, Friday.

US stocks rose 7.9 million barrels last week to 534 million, up 13% on a year ago. US production is still falling – output last week was around 11.4 million barrels, down 900,000 barrels on a year ago.

Meanwhile, silver futures starred in May, its gains easily topping those for gold futures on Comex.

Factset data showed that silver futures posted a gain of nearly 24% for the month, the largest since 2011, with the metal finding support as global economies continue to reopen from COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns.

Comex fold however lagged well behind – up just 3.4%. It could only manage a 0.5% rise last week.

Friday saw, July silver pick up 53 cents, or 3%, to end at $US18.499 an ounce, and back well above the significant support level above $US18. The near 24% was the best since April 2011. The metal was up 4.5% for the week.
Comex August gold rose $US23.40, or about 1.4%, to $US1,751.70 an ounce. Gold tacked on 3.4% for the month.

Comex metals July copper rose nearly 0.5% at $US2.4255 a pound on Friday to be up logged a monthly rise of around 4%, according to FactSet data.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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