Brent crude oil enjoys biggest price rise in January since 2013 as Canada looks to new shale boom

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The trade price of benchmark Brent crude oil has risen by 6.3 percent this month –  making this its biggest rise in January since 2013.

A key driver has been the dollar, which has lost 3.2 percent against a basket of major currencies, with Brent crude bubbling just below the $70-barrel level.

A falling dollar tends to support oil, which is priced in the U.S. currency, by making it cheaper for holders of other currencies.

But price support has also come from a large premium in the front-month Brent oil contract over those for future delivery, as investment in crude futures and options reached a new record high last week.

US energy firms added 12 drilling rigs for new production in the week ending 26 January, taking the total to 759, Baker Hughes reported.

US oil production is now on par with top exporter and OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia. Only Russia produces more, averaging 10.98 million bpd in 2017.

Meanwhile, Canada is looking towards an onshore shale oil and gas boom, with native explorers and global Big Oil companies increasingly exploring the Duvernay and Montney formations, which they say could rival the most prolific U.S. shale fields.

Canada is the first country outside the USA to see large-scale development of shale resources, which already account for 8 percent of total Canadian oil output

It offers many of the same advantages that allowed oil firms to launch the shale revolution in the US: numerous private energy firms with appetite for risk; deep capital markets; infrastructure to transport oil; low population in regions that contain shale reserves; and plentiful water to pump into shale wells.

Together, the Duvernay and Montney formations in Canada hold marketable resources estimated at 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and 4.5 billion barrels of oil, according to the National Energy Board, a Canadian regulator.

Canada’s shale output stands at about 335,000 bpd, according to energy consultants Wood Mackenzie, which forecasts output should grow to 420,000 bpd in a decade.

“The potential is absolutely huge,” said Mark Salkeld, president of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

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30 Jan 2018

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