SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices were stable on Friday, pressured as the United States became the world’s top crude producer after its output hit all-time highs, but supported as China remained on track to register another year of record imports.
Front-month Brent crude oil futures were at $72 a barrel at 0554 GMT, down 7 cents from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.72 per barrel, up 5 cents from their previous settlement. Weighing on prices was record US crude production, which hit 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week ending Nov. 2, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released on Wednesday.
That’s a threefold increase from the US low reached a decade ago, and a 22.2 percent rise just this year. It makes the United States the world’s biggest producer of crude. More US oil will likely come. The EIA expects output to break through 12 million bpd by mid-2019, largely thanks to a surge in shale oil production.
Meanwhile, US crude inventories rose by 5.8 million barrels in the week ending Nov. 2, to 431.79 million barrels, the EIA said.
Crude stocks moved back above their five-year average levels in October.
Production has not just risen in the United States, but also in many other countries, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Brazil, stoking producer concerns of a return of oversupply that depressed oil prices between 2014 and 2017.