The Trump presidency, promising less regulation and more drilling, arrives just at the right time for the oil industry.
For the first time in months, industry officials are hopeful that prices could stick above $50 per barrel, a level that would allow more U.S. drilling rigs to come on line.
Higher prices, along with President-elect Donald Trump's pledge to support the industry by rolling back regulations and weakening environmental rules, means relief for some hard-hit energy producers. The U.S. has slowly been adding oil rigs in recent months, but the count jumped by 21 to 498 last week, according to Baker Hughes. That is still well below the peak of 1,600 two years ago.
Energy industry CEOs and business leaders who gathered in New York City for the Platts Global Energy Awards Thursday were more optimistic than they've been in several years, though they say there are still unknowns. OPEC's recent agreement to cut production has helped boost prices, and that is a big factor.
"I think [in] 2017, the big question will be if the price recovery will hold and [if] that will bring some of the producers in the shale industry to increase production. Obviously there are a lot of expectations [of] the new administration but we have to see what [the change] actually means," said Martin Fraenkel, president of S&P Global Platts.
"I think [Trump will be] good for the Industry," said Gary Ross, executive chairman and head of Global Oil at research firm Pira Energy. "There are many positives on the supply side from the Trump presidency, and there's potential on the demand side. Backing away from global warming, backing away from fuel efficiency standards for new automobiles. Some of these new developments and a stronger economy are all going to lead to more demand."