MOSCOW (MRC) - Oil prices rose on Monday with investors betting that global supply will remain tight, although restraint by major producers was partially offset by a rise in Libyan output, reported Reuters.
Brent crude settled up 42 cents, or 0.5%, to USD86.48 a barrel. Earlier in the session, the contract touched its highest price since Oct. 3, 2018, at USD86.71.
US West Texas Intermediate crude was up 53 cents, or 0.6%, at $84.35 after touching its highest price since Nov. 10 at USD84.78. Trade was subdued due to the US holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Frantic oil buying, driven by supply outages and signs the Omicron coronavirus variant will not be as disruptive to fuel demand as previously feared, has pushed some crude grades to multi-year highs, suggesting the rally in Brent futures could be sustained for a while longer, traders said.
"The bullish sentiment is continuing as (producer group) OPEC+ is not providing enough supply to meet strong global demand," said Fujitomi Securities analyst Toshitaka Tazawa.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, together known as OPEC+, are gradually relaxing output cuts implemented when demand collapsed in 2020. But many smaller producers cannot increase supply and others have been wary of pumping too much oil in case of renewed COVID-19 setbacks.
Meanwhile, Libya's total oil output is back to 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), according to National Oil Corp. Libyan output was about 900,000 bpd last week owing to a blockade of western oilfields.
"Libya’s oil production had dropped to a good 700,000 bpd at the start of the year, which had played its part in the price rise," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.
Concerns over supply constraints outweighed the news of China's possible oil release from reserves, said Fujitomi's Tazawa. Sources told Reuters that China plans to release oil reserves around the Lunar New Year holidays between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 as part of a plan coordinated by the United States to reduce global prices.
As MRC informed before, US commercial crude stocks fell 3.48 million barrels to 413.96 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 17, to more than 8% below the five-year average, Energy Information Administration data showed. Stocks were last lower Oct. 5, 2018.
We remind that in late August, 2021, US crude stocks dropped sharply while petroleum products supplied by refiners hit an all-time record despite the rise in coronavirus cases nationwide, the Energy Information Administration said. Crude inventories fell by 7.2 million barrels in the week to Aug. 27 to 425.4 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 3.1 million-barrel drop. Product supplied by refineries, a measure of demand, rose to 22.8 million barrels per day in the most recent week. That's a one-week record, and signals strength in consumption for diesel, gasoline and other fuels by consumers and exporters.
We also remind that US crude oil production was expected to fall by 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2021 to 11.12 million bpd, EIA said in a monthly report earlier last year, a smaller decline than its previous forecast for a drop of 210,000 bpd.