Crude oil markets mixed on lower Canadian flows, firmer dollar

Reuters SINGAPORE | Updated on February 20, 2018 Published on February 20, 2018

Oil markets were split on Tuesday, with US crude was pushed up by reduced flows from Canada while international Brent prices eased. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $62.16 a barrel at 0153 GMT, up 48 cents, or 0.8 per cent, from their last settlement.

Traders said the higher WTI prices were a result of reduced flows from Canada's Keystone pipeline, which has been operating below capacity since late last year due to a leak, cutting Canadian supplies into the United States.

Outside North America, Brent crude eased on the back of a dip in Asian stocks and a stronger dollar, which potentially curbs demand as it makes fuel more expensive for countries using other currencies domestically. Brent crude futures were at $65.23 per barrel, down 44 cents, or 0.7 per cent, from their last close.

Despite this, oil markets remain well supported due to supply restraint by the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which started last year in order to draw down excess global inventories. OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said on Monday the organisation registered 133 per cent compliance with agreed output reduction targets in January.

Barkindo said compliance last year stood at 107 per cent. Global oil demand for 2018 is estimated to grow 1.6 million barrels per day due to an “encouraging environment”, Barkindo added.

“OPEC and Russia continue to support the production cuts that are due to expire at the end of this year, and they assure markets that there will be an orderly ramp up of production once the cuts expire,” said William O'Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia's Rivkin Securities.

While most of OPEC, especially its de-facto leader Saudi Arabia, is showing strong support for the production restraint, non-OPEC producer Russia has shown signs it may at some stage gradually start to increase output again.

Saudi Arabia—not least in an attempt to give the planned listing of its state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco—a boost, is keen for Russia and other producers to keep withholding supplies to prop up prices. But soaring US production is threatening to erode OPEC's efforts.

Last week, the amount of US oil rigs drilling for new production rose for a fourth straight week to 798, in an indication that US crude output, already at a record 10.27 million bpd, may rise further. The United States late last year became the world's second biggest oil producers, only slightly behind Russia and ahead of top exporter Saudi Arabia.

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Published on February 20, 2018
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