Explorers Crank Rig Count Higher as U.S. Crude Supplies Dwindle

(Bloomberg) -- Oil explorers deployed more U.S. rigs this week as increasingly tight crude supplies pushed prices to their highest since 2014.

U.S. working oil rigs rose by five this week to 820, the highest since March 2015, according to data from Baker Hughes. Since the end of January, the rig fleet has expanded in all but two weeks.

An Energy Information Administration report this week showed across-the-board declines in U.S. stockpiles of oil, gasoline, diesel and jet fuel and the first crude withdrawal from the largest American storage complex in six weeks. Earlier this week, crude rose to levels last seen in late 2014, when the worst oil crash in a generation was in its infancy.

“We continue to see extremely strong compliance” by OPEC nations to self-imposed supply limits, said Nick Holmes, an analyst at Tortoise in Leawood, Kansas, which manages $16 billion in energy-related assets. “It’s a multitude of factors that are contributing to that tighter inventory picture. Globally, we are seeing strong crude demand.”

Crude output in the U.S. rose by 15,000 barrels a day last week to 10.5 million, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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