Oil Reaches 15-Month High on Supply Drop, OPEC Outlook

  • Crude inventories fell to the lowest level since January
  • Strong signals that non-OPEC nations will cooperate: Al-Falih

Oil Price, OPEC Production Climb Ahead of Agreement

Oil advanced to a 15-month high in New York after the government reported that U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly fell last week and Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said many nations are willing to join OPEC production cuts.

Futures jumped 2.6 percent to settle at the highest level since July 2015. The Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday that nationwide crude supplies dropped by 5.25 million barrels to the lowest level since January in the week ended Oct. 14. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a 2.1 million-barrel increase. OPEC can continue to stabilize the market and other nations have given “strong signals” they will cooperate, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Al-Falih said in London.

“It’s a big draw. It’s a bit of surprise for the market because we are also in peak turnarounds and that’s what makes it so impressive,” Amrita Sen, chief oil economist for Energy Aspects Ltd. in London, said by telephone. Imports to the U.S. have dropped significantly, she said. “If then, on top of this, the OPEC cuts do materialize, our view is that we can see $60 by year-end. A lot depends on what happens between now and November 30.”

Oil has fluctuated near $50 a barrel amid uncertainty about whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will be able to implement an accord to reduce crude supply when they gather at an official meeting in November. An OPEC committee will meet later this month to try to resolve differences over how much individual members should pump. OPEC will start with an output freeze, or possibly a small cut, Al-Falih said.

OPEC Meeting

“The perception in the oil market is that it’s much more risky to be short, better to be neutral or long. That has everything to do with OPEC,” Michael Wittner, the New York-based head of oil-market research at Societe Generale SA, said by telephone. Today’s inventory report may have been “magnified a bit, because it’s in line with a market that’s now predisposed to be bullish.”

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery, which expires Thursday, rose $1.31 to settle at $51.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was 15 percent above the 100-day average. The more-active December contract climbed $1.20, or 2.4 percent, to end the session at $51.82 a barrel.

Brent for December settlement advanced 99 cents, or 1.9 percent, to settle at $52.67 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a 85-cent premium to December WTI.

The American Petroleum Institute foretold the stockpile decrease with its report Tuesday that said nationwide inventories had dropped by 3.8 million-barrels. Crude supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI and the biggest U.S. oil-storage hub, fell 1.64 million barrels last week to 59.7 million barrels, the lowest supply level since December, according to the EIA report on Wednesday. U.S. average weekly crude imports slid to 6.91 million barrels a day, the lowest level since June 2015.

Gasoline stockpiles in the U.S. rose 2.47 million barrels to about 228 million barrels last week, despite refineries including Exxon Baytown in Texas and BP Whiting in Indiana having units offline for seasonal planned maintenance. The crack spread, a rough measure of the profit of turning a barrel of oil into gasoline, fell 98 cents to settle at $11.97 a barrel on the Nymex.

Oil-market news:

  • Saudi Arabia told investors how much it’s willing to pay on its debut international bond to help finance a budget deficit that ballooned to the widest in more than two decades as oil prices collapsed, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • There is no possibility Russia will pull out of an agreement to cut production, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo told reporters at a conference in London. Barkindo will meet Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Monday.
(Corrects percentage increase in second paragraph.)
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