Crude oil prices closed higher in August

Petrol station in Singapore in the Geylang neighborhood; taken August 2018.

Crude oil prices posted a slight dip on Friday but gained on the month.

ICE Brent crude oil futures settled down 35 cents to US$77.42 a barrel, up 4.3 percent on month. NYMEX West Texas Intermediate fell 45 cents to US$69.80 a barrel, but still posted a gain of 1.5 percent on month.

Bullish bets on crude futures and options in London and New York rose by 28,720 contracts to 369,853 in the week ended Aug. 28, the CFTC said on Friday, the first gain since the week ended July 3.

U.S. energy companies added two rigs last week for a total count of 862, Baker Hughes said on Friday.

Simmons & Co this week forecast average total oil and natural gas rig count would rise from 876 in 2017 to 1,031 in 2018, 1,092 in 2019 and 1,227 in 2020. A total of 1,048 oil and gas rigs are currently in service. So far this year, the total number of oil and gas rigs active in the United States has averaged 1,015.

A monthly Reuters survey showed OPEC pumped 32.79 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, up 220,000 bpd from July’s revised level and the highest this year. The output was led by Saudi Arabia, with a recovering Libya and growing Iraq output noted. Venezuela output continued to decline, while Iran faces US sanctions in November with exports already curbed.

Reuters also reported that oil analysts cut their price forecasts for 2018 for the first time in almost a year in August. A survey of 45 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude to average US$72.71 a barrel in 2018, 16 cents lower than the US$72.87 projected in the previous month’s poll and above the US$71.96 average so far this year. The price was forecast to average US$72.58 in 2019.

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