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Brent, WTI Prices in Seesaw Session

Brent, WTI Prices in Seesaw Session Brent, WTI Prices in Seesaw Session

Crude prices fell in a seesaw session on Friday, retreating after early gains as it looked likely that European signatories would push to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran, which US unilaterally reneged.

The European support could keep Iran's crude exports on global markets.

In another sign, global supplies could rise further, data in the afternoon showed US crude producers added 10 rigs in the latest week, Reuters reported.

Crude prices remained just below multi-year highs, with Brent on track for a weekly 2.8% gain and US crude a 1.2% weekly rise.

Brent crude settled down 35 cents at $77.12 a barrel, just below the $78 level hit on Thursday, its highest since November 2014. The benchmark contract remained lower in post-settlement trade.

US light crude was down 66 cents at $70.70, off a 3-1/2 year high of $71.89 it hit on Thursday.

The United States plans to reintroduce sanctions against Iran, which pumps about 4% of the world’s oil, after US President Donald Trump this week abandoned a 2015 deal that limited Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Many analysts expect oil prices to rise as Iran’s exports fall.

Still, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday reiterated her support for the Iran nuclear deal and said talks were needed to establish how US sanctions would affect companies operating in Iran.

There are signs that other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will raise output to counter the Iran disruption.

Energy experts say OPEC has the capacity “to replace the Iranian losses” but even if physical supply is held constant, the market will still be faced with a precariously low level of spare capacity.

Outside OPEC, US crude production reached another record high last week, hitting 10.7 million bpd which is up 27% since mid-2016. US output is creeping closer to that of top producer Russia, which pumps about 11 million bpd.

US drillers added rigs for the sixth straight week, bringing the total rig count to 844, highest since March 2015, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said.

More than half the total oil rigs are in Permian basin in west Texas and eastern New Mexico, the nation’s biggest shale oilfield. Active units there increased by five this week to 463, the most since January 2015.

 

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