Afternoon Coffee: US Crude Inventories Jump Higher than Expected, Shale Producers Now Just Hope for $40 Oil Prices

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U.S. crude oil inventories rose much more than expected in the past week. The Energy Information Administration reported inventories increased by 10.4 billion barrels to 518 million barrels, more than the 3.6 million barrel rise that was expected. The American Petroleum Institute also reported crude oil inventories were up 9.9 million barrels last week, again more than the 3.6 million increase that was expected.

U.S. shale oil producers are readjusting their standards in the face of continued low oil prices. Continental Resources Inc., for instance, said it only needed oil prices to rise in the mid-$40s to consider increasing capital spending plans to boost 2017 production. Whiting Petroleum Corp. also reportedly said if oil prices hit $40-45 per barrel, it would consider completing new wells in the Bakken field in North Dakota.

Exxon Mobil Corp, however, announced it would continue to cut its spending plans. Some are also speculating the oil company is preparing for an “acquisition spree” after it tapped the debt market with a $12 billion deal.

Natural gas prices dropped 26% during the month of February. On the last day of the month, Feb. 29, prices also hit 17-year lows, losing 4.5%.


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