By Ben Sharples
Oil traded near the highest close in more than three years as Iraq echoed a call by the United Arab Emirates and other producers that the OPEC-led output cuts should continue, despite recent price gains.
Futures were little changed in New York after rising 4.7 percent last week. The curbs have contributed to stability in the market and the caps should remain, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. In the U.S., drillers added 10 rigs to fields last week, the most in more than six months, according to data from Baker Hughes Friday.
Oil has extended gains after a second annual advance as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies trim supply to drain a global glut. Crude demand will expand by about 1.5 million barrels a day in 2018, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said at a conference in Abu Dhabi.
“Oil looks comfortable at these levels,” said David Lennox, a commodity analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney. “OPEC compliance remains a big factor to watch. The only headwind to higher prices is rising U.S. production.”
West Texas Intermediate for February delivery was at $64.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 13 cents, at 11 a.m. in Hong Kong. Total volume traded was about 5 percent below the 100-day average. WTI rose 0.8 percent to $64.30 on Friday, the highest close since December 2014.
Brent for March settlement added 3 cents to $69.90 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices climbed 3.3 percent last week. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.49 to March WTI.
The U.A.E sees no big changes in OPEC policy as a result from short-term price fluctuations, Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said at the conference in Abu Dhabi. Qatar Energy Minister Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada told the official Qatar News Agency that the group should only review its supply accord once crude stockpiles return to a five-year historical average.
- OPEC holds enough spare output capacity to push the global market from deficit to surplus this year, but there’s low probability of it coming into play given the continued commitment to the cut deal, according to a BMI Research note dated Jan. 12.