Investing.com - Fresh data on U.S. commercial crude inventories will be the main focus for oil markets in the week ahead as traders seek to gauge how fast domestic output levels will continue to rise now that U.S. oil production has come close to matching that of top producer Russia.
U.S. crude production has been rising to record levels since late last year. In March it jumped 215,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.47 million bpd, a new monthly record, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.
Only Russia currently produces more, at around 11 million bpd.
Underscoring worries over rising output, U.S. energy companies added two oil rigs in the week to June 1, bringing the total count to 861, the highest level since March 2015, General Electric (NYSE:GE)'s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday.
New York-traded WTI crude futures dropped below $66 a barrel on Friday to log their lowest finish since April 10 at $65.81 a barrel, down $1.23, or 1.8% on the day.
The U.S. benchmark marked a weekly loss of roughly 3%, which was the second straight weekly decline.
Elsewhere, London-traded Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., slumped 77 cents, or 1%, on Friday to close at $76.79 a barrel. For the week, it still ended up 0.4%.
Brent found support from around midweek on remarks by Saudi officials that signaled the country wants to step up production only gradually in reaction to lost supplies out of Venezuela and Iran, while keeping the current production-cut agreement between OPEC and other major producers in place through the end of the year.
Prices in recent sessions had declined on concerns that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC members led by Russia would decide to lift output by up to 1 million barrels a day as early as this month.
OPEC is scheduled to hold its next meeting in Vienna on June 22.
Meanwhile, Brent's premium over WTI futures remained near three-year highs above $10 a barrel, having surpassed $11 on Thursday. The premium has doubled in less than a month, as a lack of pipeline capacity in the United States has trapped a lot of output inland.
Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of the main events likely to affect the oil market.
The American Petroleum Institute is to publish its weekly report on U.S. oil supplies.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on oil stockpiles.
Baker Hughes will release weekly data on the U.S. oil rig count.