Business World

Libyan outage, Saudi remarks lift oil

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NEW YORK — Oil prices rose on Friday to their highest in more than two weeks, supported by the shutdown of the El Feel oilfield in Libya and upbeat comments from Saudi Arabia that the Organizati­on of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)-led effort to cut stockpiles is working.

El Feel produces 70,000 barrels per day ( bpd) of crude. Production in OPEC member Libya has been running at about 1 million bpd, although it remains volatile due to unrest.

“Libya is another outage,” said John Kilduff, partner at investment manager Again Capital in New York. “This market has benefited from a series of them over the past several months now, whether it’s the Keystone, the North Sea (Forties), and now this.”

Brent crude futures rose 92 cents to settle at $67.31 a barrel, a 1.4% gain. The global benchmark’s session high of $ 67.37 was its highest since Feb. 7. West Texas Intermedia­te (WTI) crude futures rose 78 cents to settle at $63.55 a barrel, trading between $62.33 and $63.73. Both benchmarks notched their second straight week of gains. Brent was up about 3.7%, its largest weekly rise since the end of October. US benchmark WTI posted a weekly rise of about 3%.

Prices were buoyed by comments from Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih, who said he expected oil market inventorie­s to continue declining.

OPEC and other producers including Russia have cut output to support prices. They hope to reduce crude inventorie­s held by industrial­ized nations to their five-year average.

Prices pared gains in the afternoon after General Electric Co.’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said the number of oil rigs in the US rose for the fifth straight week to 799. Rising US production has hindered OPEC’s efforts to drain supplies.

On Thursday, data from the Energy Informatio­n Administra­tion ( EIA) showed that US crude inventorie­s unexpected­ly fell 1.6 million barrels last week. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for US futures fell 2.7 million barrels last week.

US crude exports have actually been rising with output. Thursday’s EIA data showed exports of US crude jumped to just above 2 million bpd, close to a record 2.1 million hit in October. —

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