US Oil Explorers Park Rigs as Crude Below $20 Seen

(Bloomberg) -- Explorers idled more drilling rigs in U.S. oilfields this week as record supplies begin to make crude prices in the teens a real possibility.

Rigs targeting oil in the U.S. fell by 28 to 439, after more than 1,000 were idled over the past year and a half, Baker Hughes Inc. said on its website Friday. The report marks two straight months of declines in the number of working rigs. Natural gas rigs were trimmed by 2 to 102, bringing the total down by 30 to 541.

Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the biggest U.S. oil-storage hub, rose to a record 64.7 million barrels last week, according to government data. The site is considered full at 73 million barrels.

"Oil has become so disconnected to the cost of getting it from the ground that now we’re trading on round numbers," said Stephen Schork, president of the Schork Group Inc. in Villanova, Pennsylvania. "The next target is $25 and then we’ll head to $20. Oil in the teens is a real prospect in the near future."

America’s oil drillers have been idling rigs since October 2014 as the world’s largest crude suppliers battle for market share. Despite the cutbacks, U.S. production has remained stubbornly high as new techniques that increase efficiency keep the oil flowing.

U.S. production fell by 28,000 barrels last week to 9.19 million barrels a day, according to weekly Energy Information Administration data. It was the first time since early September that U.S. output declined for three weeks in a row.

--With assistance from Dan Murtaugh and Mark Shenk.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Wethe in Houston at dwethe@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net Susan Warren, Carlos Caminad.

Copyright 2016 Bloomberg News.

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Brent Crude Oil : $54.46/BBL 0.96%
Light Crude Oil : $51.68/BBL 1.21%
Natural Gas : $3.44/MMBtu 1.99%
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