U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate closed up 4.21% to $48.25 a barrel today, July 25. International benchmark Brent climbed 3.93% to $50.51 a barrel.
Big moves. Exactly what you’d expect on a day when both OPEC and U.S. shale producers produced big news.
On the OPEC front the news was that Saudi Arabia and Russia had teamed up to put pressure on oil producers who had fallen behind in delivering the cuts to production promised in the last OPEC plan to reduce supply and reduce the global oil glut. The rhetoric is aimed at Nigeria and Libya, countries exempt from the last cuts and who have been busy increasing production, and at countries such as Algeria, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates that have been slow to curb production. In addition the Saudis pledged to cap oil exports at 6.6 million barrels a day in August. That would be down from 6.9 million barrels a day in May and one million barrels a day lower than the 2016 monthly high. (Actual production is likely to remain around 10 million barrels a day as the country gears up for seasonal highs in demand as utilities burn oil to meet summer electricity demand from air conditioners.)
On the U.S. oil shale front today a top domestic oil and natural gas producer Anadarko Petroleum (APC) announced a bigger than expected loss for the June quarter and told Wall Street that it would cut capital spending for 2017 by $300 million. There’s no guarantee that other U.S. producers will cut spending as well, which would mean a reduction in drilling and production, but yesterday oil services giant Halliburton (HAL) weighed in with a read on its market that pointed to exactly that conclusion. Halliburton executive chairman David Lesar told analysts on a conference call Monday that it seeing signs that the U.S. oil surge is “plateauing and customers are tapping on the brakes.” The comments from Halliburton come after the Baker Hughes rig count released on Friday showed the number of active rigs working in the United States had fallen for the second time in three weeks. (Anadarko is, to a degree a special case. Capital spending had been inflated this year as the company rushed to lock down drilling rights ahead of the expiration of a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.) Anadardo lost $415 million of 76 cents a share in the second quarter. Analysts had predicted a loss of 33 cents a share.)
Halliburton’s remarks yesterday crushed shares of companies that supply the fracking sector. U.S. Silica Holdings (SCLA) was down 11.9% Monday, July 24, and Hi-Crush Partners (HCLP) was off 13.44%. Both companies sell the sand that oil companies use in fracking their wells in oil shale geologies. Today the stocks were up 1.41% and 0.62%, respectively. That’s not an especially impressive bounce after that size of a sell off.