Oil Prices Gain on Lower U.S. Crude Stocks

Oil markets were up on Thursday due to a fourth straight weekly fall in the U.S. crude inventories. However, rising output stopped prices well below the 2015 highs reached earlier this week.

oil workers in oil field

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $56.69 per barrel, up 0.2 percent or 9 cents from previous settlement.

Brent, the international benchmark for oil prices, crude futures were at $62.79 per barrel. It rose 0.6 percent or 35 cents from previous close.

The U.S. crude oil stockpiles dropped from 5.1 million to 442.99 million barrels in the week leading to December 8. This was its fourth consecutive week of decline as well as its lowest since October 2015.

Brent was below $65.83 per barrel, which was the June 2015 high reached earlier this week, despite its price gain. The level was reached after the Forties pipeline was shut down due to cracks. The Forties pipeline carries significant amounts of the North Sea crude used to underpin Brent crude futures.

The International Energy Agency said that it did not see any need for immediate action, such as the release of strategic stockpiles. This is due to the market staying well-supplied.

“The next four weeks or so should be interesting. If the market is able to survive without the Forties supply, its returning on stream could trigger a major sell-off,” said Trifecta’s director, Sukrit Vijayakar.

Crude Oil Gains in Asia

Crude oil prices rose in Asia on Thursday despite marginally weaker Chinese industrial output figures. This happened as refinery output held strong while a dip was experienced by the domestic crude output.

Crude futures rose 0.35 percent to $56.80 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. While on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent increased 0.29 percent to $62.88 per barrel.

China’s report on November’s industrial production showed gain of 6.1 percent compared to a predicted 3.2 percent rise. This is followed by retail sales that rose 10.2 percent compared to the predicted 10.3 percent rise. The fixed asset investment gained 7.2 percent as expected.

Crude runs for November in China reached 49.4 million metric tons. This is an increase of 8.2 percent on year with the January to November crude runs climbing 5.1 percent to 518.66 million metric tons. The increase happened alongside domestic crude oil production falling 2.5 percent on year to 15.7 million metric tons with year-to-date output down 4.1 percent at 175.64 million metric tons.

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