Oil prices rose early on Monday ahead of a meeting between OPEC and U.S. shale firms in Houston, raising expectations that oil producers would discuss further how to clear a global oil glut. Oil ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other global oil players are set to gather in Houston as CERAWeek, the largest energy industry conference, begins on Monday.
The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution.
Oil production has risen by 5 million barrels per day (bpd) since 2010, an increase of nearly 100 percent. New technology, particularly techniques in shale oil drilling, has opened up vast new opportunities for oil and gas companies.
Saudi Arabia continues to ratchet up production, taking market share away from U.S. shale producers. According to OPEC's latest monthly oil report, Saudi Arabia boosted its oil output to 10.31 million barrels per day in April, a slight increase over the previous month's total of 10.29 million barrels.
Even as financial commentators on CNBC are starting to come around to the idea of a bottom in oil prices, the key question for US oil producers remains one of timing. How long will the oil price slump last? Is this a relatively short term event like 2008, or a longer term slump like the one in the mid 1980’s?
U.S. oil and gas rig counts dropped to their lowest level in over four years, falling by an additional 74 units for the week ending on January 16. The lower count provides fresh evidence that low oil prices are forcing drillers to pare back operations and slash spending.
The US oil price fell below the symbolic threshold of $50 a barrel for the first time since April 2009, before finishing the day at $50.05. The price of Brent crude also fell on Monday, dipping 6% to $53 a barrel.