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 6.3% year-to-date and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is not the primary reason why.
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.
“The U.S. used to prohibit the export of crude oil, a prohibition that was removed at the end of 2015. Since then, exports have inched up bit by bit. But in the fourth quarter of 2016, exports began to surge, a rapid rise that has extended into this year. In February, the latest month for which data is available, U.S. exports climbed to a record high 31.2 million barrels,” according to OilPrice.com.
Thanks to the shale boom, the U.S. is now a major oil exporter, which could threaten oil prices. In fact, China has become a major buyer of U.S. crude.