Oil edges up on North Sea pipeline outage, expectation of lower US crude stocks
SINGAPORE, Dec 20 — Oil prices inched up this morning, supported by expectations of a fall in US crude inventories and by the ongoing outage of the North Sea Forties pipeline system.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at US$57.71 (RM235.51) a barrel at 0100 GMT, up 15 cents from their last settlement.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at US$63.86 a barrel, up 6 cents.
“Oil prices inched higher on expectations of another strong drawdown in US inventories,” ANZ bank said this morning.
The American Petroleum Institute said yesterday that US crude inventories fell by 5.2 million barrels in the week to December 15 to 438.7 million.
Official US government data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due today.
Oil prices have also been supported by the continuing outage of the Forties pipeline in the North Sea, which delivers crude underpinning Brent futures.
Operator Ineos hopes to be able to fix a crack in the pipeline, which can pump around 450,000 barrels per day of crude, within two to four weeks from December 11.
Despite the North Sea outage and falling US crude inventories, oil prices have remained some way off their US$65.63 and US$59.05 per barrel recent highs for Brent and WTI respectively.
Traders said rising US crude production, which has soared by 16 percent since mid-2016 to 9.8 million bpd, was capping prices.
Most analysts expect US output to break through 10 million bpd soon, which would be a new record and take it to levels on par with top exporter Saudi Arabia and close to top producer Russia, which pumps around 11 million bpd. — Reuters