The price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil fought off $49 per barrel in early Tuesday trading despite a string of pessimistic statements from US players.
WTI, the US benchmark, was up about four tenths of a percent to $50.15 per barrel in early Tuesday trading. WTI is up about 14 percent from its low point in 2015, but down 15 percent from the start of July.
Crude oil prices are trending lower because markets are oversupplied and the global economy is slow to recover from the previous fiscal crisis. Greek debt issues re-emerged in recent weeks as a threat to the European economy, though leaders said the region was better prepared this time around.
Supplies, meanwhile, are under pressure from the eventual return of Iran, which last week reached a breakthrough nuclear agreement that could put more of its crude oil on the international market.
Brent crude oil prices were up about half a percent to $56.93 per barrel, though Tuesday's early start was more than 9 percent below July 1.
The low price of oil means less spending for energy companies on exploration and production. Oil services companies Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes all reported weak earnings during the second quarter. While Schlumberger said markets may be plumbing the depths, Baker Hughes and Halliburton both said they expected the downturn to continue.
Baker Hughes said Tuesday it expected rig numbers would remain low for the rest of the year, particularly in North America. Analysis last week from the US Energy Information Administration, however, painted a different picture for exploration and production.
While legacy oil production in most US shale basins was in a steep decline, output from new wells was on the rise. Nevertheless, EIA data show there may be an emerging drop off in US oil production.
By Daniel J. Graeber
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