The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, and the United States Brent Oil Fund (NYSEArca: BNO), which tracks Brent crude oil futures, are down an average of 13.2% year-to-date.
Some of the struggles of oil and the energy sector this year can be pinned on investors’ concerns regarding the ability of major oil-producing nations, including the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to effectively reduce production.
While OPEC is cutting back to alleviate price pressures, U.S. fracking companies could jump to capitalize on the windfall as crude oil prices jump back above $50 per barrel – according to some estimates, shale oil producers can get by with oil at just over $50 per barrel due to advancements in technology and drilling techniques that have helped cut down costs.
Saudi Arabia is eyeing oil at $60 barrel this year, a comfortable price for many OPEC members, but probably not high enough to encourage U.S. shale producers to significantly increase their rig counts. Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s largest producer.