By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices firmed on Monday on the back of a slight decline in the number of U. S. rigs drilling for new production, with crude holding just below near three-year highs reached last week.
U. S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.62 a barrel at 0344 GMT, 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, above their last settlement, and not far off the $62.21 May 2015 high reached last week.
Brent crude futures were at $67.77 a barrel, 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, above their last close. Brent hit $68.27 high last week, the highest since May 2015.
Traders said the gains were due to a slight decline in the number of U.
Despite this, U. S. production is expected to break through 10 million barrels per day (bpd) very soon, largely thanks to soaring output from shale drillers. Only top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia produce more.
"Traders may decide that discretion is the better part of valour while markets wait on evidence of what happens to the rig count and production levels over the next couple of months."
Rising U. S. production is the main factor countering production cuts led by the Middle East dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and by Russia, which began in January last year and are set to last through 2018.
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein and Florence Tan; editing by Richard Pullin)
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)