Oil-rig count rises for 19th straight week

The US oil-rig count rose by two to 722 this week, according to oilfields-services company Baker Hughes.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of when the tally bottomed after the downturn. The stunning drop in the number of rigs was a proxy for how hard lower prices were hurting exploration companies.

The count rose for an 18th straight period last week, extending the longest streak of additions since 2011.

The front-month contract for West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the US benchmark, is on pace for a 1.5% weekly decline. Oil fell on Thursday even after OPEC and its allies extended their agreement to lower production by nine months. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries — a cartel of major oil producers — extended the deal that started in January to address the global supply glut that has subdued prices.

But the extension had been widely expected, and traders realised that the robustness of US shale-oil production could undermine OPEC’s cuts.

More to come …

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