By December 27, 2016 Read More →

Oil prices jump, adds to year’s gains ahead of OPEC cuts

Oil prices

Oil prices rose 1.7 per cent on Tuesday in thin trading. Shell photo.

Oil prices rise prior to supply cuts starting on Sunday

By Alex Lawler and David Gaffen

LONDON/NEW YORK, Dec 27 (Reuters) – Oil prices jumped 1.7 per cent Tuesday, continuing its year-end rally with support from expectations of tighter supply once the first output cut deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in 15 years takes effect on Sunday.

U.S. crude prices have surged 25 per cent since mid-November, helped by expectations for OPEC’s supply cut and generally solid U.S. economic figures that have also bolstered equity prices.

Trading was thin on Tuesday, with less than one-third of the usual volume in futures contracts in West Texas Intermediate crude oil. With oil near $54 a barrel, U.S. crude futures are not far from the year’s high of $54.51 high reached on December 12.

“Some of the doubts (in OPEC) people are showing are going to have to be put to rest,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “There’s a strong possibility that we’re going to rally into the end of the year.”

Jan. 1 is the official start of the deal agreed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and several non-OPEC producers to lower production by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (b/d).

U.S. crude was up 90 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $53.92 a barrel. Brent crude rose 94 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $56.10 a barrel as of 1153 a.m. ET (1653 GMT). The global benchmark hit $57.89 on Dec. 12, highest since July 2015.

The members of an OPEC and non-OPEC committee formed to monitor the market may meet on Jan. 13, two sources said. Oil rallied further after news of the meeting, which may give an early indication of compliance with the deal.

“From January, we’ll start to have a better idea about the level of OPEC production,” said Olivier Jakob, oil analyst at Petromatrix.

Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft said on Tuesday it planned to increase oil production by 4.5 to 5 per cent next year, less than intended before Russia joined the supply cut deal.

Major OPEC members such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq have informed customers of lower supplies. But Libya and Nigeria – which are exempt from reductions because conflict has curbed their output – have been increasing production.

Products markets outpaced crude on Tuesday, as the price of reformulated blendstock gasoline gained 2.4 per cent to $1.6652 a gallon, while heating oil gained 2.9 per cent to trade at $1.71 a gallon. Those contracts expire Friday; options on those contracts are expiring Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Osamu Tsukimori in Tokyo; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Alexandra Hudson and David Gregorio)

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