West Texas Intermediate crude traded near a one-week high amid forecast that U.S. stockpiles fell and as Middle East unrest curbs exports.
Futures rose as much as 1 percent. U.S. crude inventories dropped by 1.55 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey before tomorrow’s Energy Department report. Libya’s biggest oil terminal remained shut yesterday after briefly reopening, a port official said. South Sudan is working to avoid halting fuel exports planned by Sudan on Aug. 22, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
“It’s the mix of political factors keeping prices up,” said Frank Klumpp, an analyst at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg in Stuttgart, Germany. “The last uptick we had was because of seasonal demand, but that will fade and fundamental factors should weigh more until the end of the year.”
WTI for September delivery advanced as much as $1.09 to $107.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $106.38 as of 12:52 p.m. London time. The volume of all futures traded was 8 percent above the 100-day average. Prices have climbed 16 percent this year.
Brent for September settlement gained 66 cents to $109.63 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $3.26 to WTI, compared with $2.86 yesterday.
U.S. crude inventories probably fell as new pipeline capacity helped shrink a glut at Cushing in Oklahoma, the largest U.S. oil hub, the Bloomberg survey showed. That would leave supplies at the lowest level since Jan. 11. All 10 respondents forecast a drop. The American Petroleum Institute in Washington will publish its own data today.
Stockpiles declined 30.8 million barrels from June 21 to Aug. 2 as refineries operated at more than 90 percent of capacity, according to the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical unit. Supplies at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI contracts, have decreased for five consecutive weeks to 39.9 million, the lowest since March 2012.
“It’s very hard for inventories to post consistent gains when refineries operate in excess of 90 percent of capacity,” Tom Finlon, the director of Energy Analytics Group LLC in Jupiter, Florida, said yesterday. “We should also see supplies draw out of Cushing because of the new pipeline capacity.”
The Libyan port of Es Sider shut after opening on Aug. 11. It was closed since July 28 amid protests by the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which is pressing for better working conditions.
Interruptions at ports and other installations across Libya reduced the country’s oil production to 800,000 barrels a day in July, half the rate of a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg survey of output by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
South Sudan is producing 160,000 barrels a day, Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said on Aug. 9. The nation seceded from Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s output of 490,000 barrels a day.
In Europe, production of the North Sea Ekofisk grade was curtailed after a gas turbine broke down Aug. 7, Jan Erik Geirmo, a BP spokesman in Stavanger, Norway, said in an e-mail yesterday. The affected fields were producing 8,000 barrels a day, according to estimates by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.
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