| SINGAPORE, March 27
SINGAPORE, March 27 Oil prices dipped on Monday
as rising U.S. drilling activity outweighed talks that an
OPEC-led production cut initially due to end in mid-2017 may be
Prices for front-month Brent crude futures, the
international benchmark for oil, eased 7 cents from their last
close to $50.73 per barrel by 0145 GMT.
In the United States, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude
futures were down 14 cents at $47.83 a barrel.
Traders said that prices received some support from talks
over the weekend between the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, including
Russia, aimed at extending a production cut beyond the middle of
the year in order to prop up the market.
"OPEC and non-OPEC decided to get ahead of the game this
weekend, announcing they are reviewing whether the output curb
deal should be extended," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market
analyst at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore, adding that
this had given crude some support.
But the OPEC-led cuts were offset by rising drilling
activity and oil production in the United States, which traders
said contributed to financial traders reducing their long
positions in crude futures to the lowest level since early
"The U.S. oil rig count continued its surge ... Since its
trough on May 27, 2016, producers have added 336 oil rigs (+106
percent) in the U.S.," Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients.
The U.S. bank said that should the rig count stay at the
current levels and the impact of a backlog of previously closed
rigs returning to production was considered, then U.S. oil
production would rise by 235,000 bpd between the fourth quarter
of 2016 and the first half of 2017.
Since mid-2016, U.S. oil production has risen by 700,000
bpd, or 8.3 percent, to 9.13 million bpd, government data shows
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin)