Oil prices fell in Q1 as U.S. stepped up crude production
WTI oil slid from $55 US a barrel at the beginning of the year to a trading range around $50
Oil prices were set to finish out the quarter down from three months ago, as the U.S. continued to step up shale oil production.
West Texas Intermediate oil slipped below $50 US a barrel several times during North American trading. It was been trapped in a trading range around $50-$52 for three weeks.
At the close on Friday, the benchmark futures contract was at $50.70 US a barrel, up 35 cents from Thursday, but down 5.6 per cent on the year to date.
Three months ago, WTI oil was above $55 US a barrel after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries began to implement cuts to its daily output of crude.
OPEC and non-OPEC producers, including Russia, agreed late last year to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017 to rein in a global supply overhang and prop up prices.
But the higher prices that followed the pact just emboldened other oil producers to turn on the taps.
Rig count figures released Friday from Baker Hughes show that U.S. producers are stepping up their production.
There were 824 rigs in the U.S. last week, up 15 from a week ago and 374 from this time last year.
In Canada the number of oil and gas rigs slipped by 30 to 155.
The Canadian dollar has been remarkably resilient despite the decline in crude prices. On Friday it rose 0.19 of a cent to close at 75.19 cents US. GDP numbers released in the morning show the economy is growing at a faster clip — 0.6 per cent in January and 2.3 per cent in the past year.