Oil prices firm on trade hopes, but record US output drags

Published: February 22, 2019
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Brent crude futures at $67.18 per barrel, eight cents above their last close. PHOTO: REUTERS

Brent crude futures at $67.18 per barrel, eight cents above their last close. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON: Oil prices were firm on Friday, supported by OPEC’s ongoing supply cuts and hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon end their trade dispute.

Prices, however, remained just below 2019 peaks reached earlier this week as US crude oil production hit a record 12 million barrels per day (bpd) and its exports also surged.

International Brent crude futures were at $67.18 per barrel at 1019 GMT, eight cents above their last close, but below $67.38 per barrel reached earlier this week.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $57.03 per barrel, up seven cents, but below this week’s $57.55 per barrel 2019 high.

Traders said prices were lifted by hopes that Washington and Beijing could resolve their trade disputes, which have dented global economic growth, before a March 1 deadline, during negotiations this week.

Oil hovers near 2019 highs amid OPEC cuts

“We’ll just have to watch trade talks in DC today (Friday). Yesterday, the market was rather dead, volume was low and US data on crude and products was mixed, so the market didn’t really react,” Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix consultancy said. “Anything positive on trade talks will boost the oil price.”

Prices have also been supported by supply cuts led by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC and some non-affiliated producers such as Russia agreed late last year to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to prevent a large supply overhang from growing.

Goldman Sachs said in a note that it expects OPEC output to average 31.1 million bpd in 2019, down from 31.9 million bpd.

At least in part offsetting that is surging US crude oil production which reached 12 million bpd for the first time last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.

That means US crude output has soared by almost 2.5 million bpd since the start of 2018, and by a whopping five million bpd since 2013. America is the only country to ever reach 12 million bpd of production.

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