HOUSTON (ICIS)--NYMEX WTI crude futures for March delivery settled at $59.20 on Friday, down $1.95, capping a week of losses for the benchmark that culminated in the largest weekly decline in two years.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell below the $60/bbl mark on Friday for the first time since December on bearish sentiment spurred by a number of factors.
Supply-glut concerns grew when the Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed on Wednesday a build in US crude inventories and products as well as higher refinery run rates. US production has surpassed 10m bbl/day and shows no signs of slowing as oil producers put another 26 oil rigs to work in the week ended 9 February, according to data released by Baker Hughes on Friday.
The additions put the US oil rig count at 791, which is the highest it has been since April 2015. It was also the largest week-on-week oil rig increase since January 2017.
A stronger US dollar and volatile activity on Wall Street throughout the week contributed to downward pressure on oil prices.
Brent crude futures for April delivery saw similar losses in the week, continuing its slide on Friday to end down $2.02 at $62.79/bbl. The North Sea's Forties pipeline shut down briefly this week, but the outage was short lived and rates ramped up again quickly.
Losses were only capped by the backwardated structure of the crude forward curves, which partially shielded commodity markets from the sudden downtrend.