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Crude Oil Gained 2% as U.S. Oil Inventories Dipped Last Week

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Crude oil appreciated on Tuesday on signs global supply is declining amid better-than-expected optimism on Chinese economic recovery and a weaker dollar.

But the likelihood that OPEC+ will leave output unchanged at its upcoming meeting limited the gains.

Brent crude futures rose $2.06, or 2.48% to $85.09 per barrel by 1044 GMT. The more active February Brent crude contract rose by 2.02% to $85.95.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed $1.69, or 2.16%, to $79.89.

Support followed expectations of tighter crude supply.

U.S. crude oil stocks dropped by 7.9 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 25, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday.

Official figures are due from the U.S Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.

And the International Energy Agency expects Russian crude production to be curtailed by some 2 million barrels of oil per day by the end of the first quarter next year, its chief Fatih Birol told Reuters on Tuesday.

On the demand side, further support came from optimism over a demand recovery in China, the world’s largest crude buyer.

China reported fewer COVID-19 infections than on Tuesday, while the market speculated that weekend protests could prompt an easing in travel restrictions.

Guangzhou, a southern city, relaxed COVID prevention rules in several districts on Wednesday.

A fall in the U.S. dollar was also bearish for prices. A weaker greenback makes dollar-denominated oil contracts cheaper for holders of other currencies, and boosts demand.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak about the economy and labour market on Wednesday, with investors looking for clues about when the Fed will slow the pace of its aggressive interest rate hikes.

Capping gains, the OPEC+ decision to hold its Dec. 4 meeting virtually signals little likelihood of a policy change, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Market fundamentals favour another cut, especially given the uncertainty over China’s COVID situation … Failure to do so risks sparking another selling frenzy,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.

Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.

Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.

He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.

Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.

The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.

Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.

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Oil Prices Rebound in Asian Markets Amid Red Sea Shipping Concerns

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Amid escalating attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and growing uncertainty regarding U.S. interest rate cuts, oil prices rebounded in Asian markets today.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, climbed by 24 cents to $82.58 a barrel while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI) rose by 21 cents to $77.25.

The rebound comes after both Brent and WTI contracts experienced a 1.5% and 1.4% decline, respectively, from their near three-week highs on Tuesday.

This decline occurred as the premium for prompt U.S. crude futures to the second-month contract widened to $1.71 a barrel, its widest level in approximately four months.

However, on Wednesday, the premiums slid to 4 cents a barrel.

Analysts suggest that oil futures have entered a relatively range-bound phase, with current prices reflecting a risk premium of $6-7 per barrel.

The situation could persist until the next significant development in the Gaza crisis, whether it involves a de-escalation through a ceasefire or a further intensification of the conflict.

Recent attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab strait by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have heightened concerns over freight flows through these critical waterways.

Moreover, Washington’s veto of a draft UN Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war has added to geopolitical tensions impacting oil markets.

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Middle East Tensions Keep Oil Prices Near Three-Week Highs, China’s Economic Recovery Offers Support

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Oil prices remained close to three-week highs on Tuesday, buoyed by ongoing tensions in the Middle East and signs of economic recovery in China.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dipped by 29 cents to settle at $83.27 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil fell 38 cents to $78.08 a barrel.

Geopolitical uncertainties in the Middle East, particularly heightened by Iran-aligned Houthi attacks on shipping lanes, continued to influence market sentiment.

The Houthis’ recent strikes have targeted vessels in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait, escalating concerns about disruptions to global shipping.

Meanwhile, China’s economic resilience served as a counterbalance to the geopolitical tensions. The country’s tourism revenue surged by 47.3% year-on-year, surpassing pre-COVID levels during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Also, China implemented a record cut to a benchmark mortgage reference rate to stabilize its property market and economy.

Despite these supportive factors, concerns about global oil demand lingered following a bearish report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA revised its 2024 oil demand growth forecast downward, reflecting the ongoing transition to cleaner energy sources worldwide.

As such, market participants remain vigilant about the delicate balance between geopolitical risks and demand dynamics influencing oil prices.

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