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Brent oil jumps above $65 for first time since 2015 on pipe halt

Dec 12 2017 07:51
Bloomberg: Ben Sharples

Hong Kong - Global benchmark Brent crude jumped above $65 a barrel for the first time in 2 1/2 years after one of the most important pipelines in the world was shut because of a crack.

Futures rose as much as 1.1% in London, set for the highest close since June 10, 2015, after advancing 2% on Monday. It will take about two weeks to repair the small hairline crack after was it was discovered on the North Sea Forties Pipeline System during a routine inspection, according to operator Ineos.

In the US, crude stockpiles are forecast to drop a fourth week, a Bloomberg survey showed before government data on Wednesday.

Oil is heading for a second yearly gain as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia extend supply cuts through to the end of 2018. A strategy to exit the deal can be drafted in June if the market is no longer oversupplied by then, according to United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei.

"If the market has some visibility on how long it’s going to take to repair the pipeline, that removes some of the uncertainty and reduces the risk premium," said Ric Spooner, a Sydney-based analyst at CMC Markets.

"The relatively high global inventories will possibly cap any rally we have from here."

Brent for February settlement rose as much as 70 cents to $65.39 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, and was at $65.34 at 12:28pm Hong Kong time. Prices gained $1.29 to $64.69 on Monday.

The benchmark traded at a premium of $7.01 to February West Texas Intermediate, the highest level on a closing basis since May 2015.

WTI for January delivery climbed as much as 36 cents to $58.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising 1.1% on Monday. Total volume traded was about 41% above the 100-day average.

The supplies that flow through the Forties Pipeline System are the single largest constituent part of so-called Dated Brent crude that helps to settle more than half the world’s physical oil prices. The shutdown forced Apacheto suspend operations at its nearby Forties field.

Oil-market news:

US crude stockpiles probably dropped by 2.89 million barrels last week, according to the Bloomberg survey before an Energy Information Administration report on Wednesday.

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commodities  |  markets  |  crude oil
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