West Texas Intermediate snapped six days of gains. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its price forecasts for Brent crude, citing supply disruptions in Libya and Iraq.
Futures fell as much as 0.7 percent in New York, capping the longest rising streak since April as unrest in Egypt fanned concern that Middle East shipments may be at risk. Global oil inventories have “tightened substantially,” according to Goldman Sachs. U.S. refinery rates fell in the week to Aug. 9, a fourth weekly drop. BP Plc said it may start redeploying workers to platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as a storm weakened.
The drop in U.S. refinery runs shows “summer demand is easing,” Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London, said in an e-mail. “Brent is still supported by supply disruptions and geopolitics.”
WTI for September delivery, which expires tomorrow, dropped as much as 71 cents to $106.75 a barrel and was at $106.83 as of 1:43 p.m. London time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It settled at $107.46 on Aug. 16, the highest close since Aug. 1. The more active October contract was down 75 cents to $106.54. The volume of all futures traded was about 11 percent below the 100-day average.
Brent for October settlement fell 6 cents to $110.34 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It was at a premium of $3.83 to WTI. The spread narrowed for the first time in a week on Aug. 16 to $3.11.
Brent, the benchmark crude for more than half the world’s oil, may rise to about $115 a barrel in the “very near term,” Goldman Sachs said in a report today. It raised its three-month and six-month price projections.
“The disruptions in Libyan oil supplies have lasted far longer than we initially thought, with no near-term resolution in sight, which was further complicated by the involvement of the military,” said Jeffrey Currie, a Goldman analyst in New York. “Combined with the ongoing problems in Iraq, which we see extending into the autumn, OPEC outages since the beginning of the summer have taken 33 million barrels off the market.”
Libya’s crude production has slumped amid a labor dispute at oil fields and ports that started last month. The member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries holds Africa’s largest reserves.
Egyptian Defense Minister Abdelfatah al-Seesi said yesterday the military won’t allow the country to be destroyed after a week of violence left hundreds dead.
“We’ve still got Middle Eastern issues,” said Jonathan Barratt, the chief executive officer of Barratt’s Bulletin in Sydney who predicts investors may sell WTI contracts at about $108.60 a barrel. “The Gulf storm was the reason why the market closed on the topside, because there was a little bit of risk and nobody wanted to go short over the weekend.”
WTI surged 8.8 percent in July, the most since August 2012, as Egypt’s army deposed Mohamed Mursi as president. The country controls the Suez Canal and the Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline, through which a combined 4.51 million barrels a day of crude and refined products were shipped last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The Middle East accounted for 35 percent of global oil output in the first quarter of this year, International Energy Agency data show.
“Tighter global supply should continue to support oil near term, but we caution against buying crude on the assumption that outages will persist,” Adam Longson, an analyst at Morgan Stanley in New York, said in a report today.
Money managers reduced WTI net-long positions, or wagers on rising prices, by 2,041 futures and options combined, or 0.7 percent, to 308,786, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said in its weekly report Aug. 16.
For Brent, money managers raised bullish bets to the highest in more than two years in the week ended Aug. 13, according to data from ICE Futures Europe. Net-long positions rose 2.5 percent to 193,527 lots, the most since at least January 2011, the starting point for the data series.
WTI’s advance may stall as futures approach the 30-day upper Bollinger Band, a technical indicator at about $108.70 a barrel today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sell orders tend to be clustered near chart-resistance levels.