North Seal Oil
Oil futures head lower on possibility of rising US production Reuters

Oil futures slid to a three-week low on Tuesday (7 February), with rig data pointing to a revival in the fortunes of shale explorers.

At 6:17pm GMT, the Brent front month future contract for April delivery was down 1.58% or $0.88 to $51.94 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was 2.02% or $1.07 lower at $54.84 per barrel, as data published Baker Hughes pointed to yet another uptick in the number of US and Canadian rigs.

The oilfield service company noted in its latest assessment that 729 oil and gas rigs were operation in the US, along with 343 in Canada, a rise of 158 and 101 rigs respectively compared to the first week February in 2016.

The arrived in near tandem with S&P Global Platt's observation that Opec cuts were being partly offset by "output gains in Libya and Nigeria" - which are exempt from the output cap accord inked in November 2016, and Iran, which is allowed to increase its production slightly.

However, the data aggregation and analysis firm also noted that the 10 Opec members obligated to reduce oil output under the landmark agreement, including Saudi Arabia, had achieved 91% of their required cuts in January, with their production falling 1.14 million bpd from October levels.

In a note to clients, analysts at JBC Energy said that the oil market is in need of a strong new catalyst to breach $57-level and move higher towards $60, which is not forthcoming at the moment.

"At present, the fact that the speculative community's net-length is at an all-time high for WTI, while the US oil rig count rose once again, is creating a tough environment for the bulls. Besides these data points, encouraging production numbers from Libya, Nigeria as well as the US itself are also painting a picture of a limited impact of the Opec/non-OPEC cut."

Away from the oil market, gold futures remained above $1,230 an ounce as safe-haven seeking investors continued to bet on the physical market. At 1:53 pm GMT, the Comex gold futures contract for February delivery was 0.31% or $3.80 higher at $1,235.90 an ounce.

Concurrently, Comex silver was up 0.27% or 5 cents at $17.74 an ounce, while spot platinum was 0.73% or $1.75 lower at $1,007.40 an ounce, still clear of the psychological $1,000-level it last breached in January.