Friday's oil prices were down for the third time in four weeks as crude oil reached a one-month low of $43.03 per barrel.
Experts cite increased exports from OPEC and a major U.S. gas pipeline shutdown as continued top factors impacting prices, which fell to $40.30 on Aug. 2 and rallied to $49.11 by Aug. 19 before starting another slump. Oil reached $52.67 on June 8 but have had an overall decline this summer.
The U.S. southeast has been impacted by the closure of part of the Colonial Pipeline — which runs from Mississippi to Atlanta — after 252,000 to 336,000 gallons of oil were spilled into Shelby County, AL. The pipeline section near Helena, AL has been closed since Sept. 9, resulting in gas shortages and outages across five states.
However, the Wall Street Journal says disruptions caused by the pipeline spill are only a temporary problem in the big picture of crude oil, as analysts expect oversupply issues will continue to plague oil markets for weeks or months to come.
Rig Count Update
The U.S. lost two active rigs exploring for oil and natural gas last week, with the count dipping to 506 through Friday. One year ago, 842 rigs were active. The latest weekly report from oilfield services company Baker Hughes said that 416 rigs were actively searching for oil, 89 sought natural gas and one was listed as miscellaneous.
While the year-over-year rig count is down by 40 percent, the count has climbed by 25.2 percent since bottoming out at 404 in May.
Among top oil-and-gas producing states, Oklahoma gained three rigs and Alaska gained one. Louisiana declined by two, while North Dakota and Texas each declined by one.