Crude Oil Prices – Weekly Outlook: October 23 – 27

© Reuters. Crude oil prices end the week higher amid Mideast tensions – Oil prices settled higher in see-saw trade on Friday, as political tensions in the Kurdistan region continued to disrupt crude supplies. Oil exports from Iraq’s Kurdistan towards the Turkish port of Ceyhan were flowing at average rates of 216,000 barrels per day versus the usual flows of 600,000 bpd, a shipping source said. The supply disruption in Iraq comes amid ongoing political uncertainty in the region following conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish forces. Iraqi troops marched toward Northern Iraq earlier in week and regained control of two major oilfields from Kurdish forces. Meanwhile, in the U.S., investors mulled over data showing oil drilling activity fell for a third week in a row, extending a two-month drilling decline. Oilfield services firm Baker Hughes said Friday that its weekly count of oil rigs operating in the United States fell by seven to 736, the lowest level since June. The weekly rig count is an important barometer for the drilling industry and serves as a proxy for domestic oil production. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures tacked on 33 cents, or around 0.6%, to end at $51.84 a barrel by close of trade. For the week, WTI prices rose about 0.8%, the second-straight weekly gain. Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., added 52 cents, or roughly 0.9%, to settle at $57.75 a barrel. The global benchmark ended the week with an increase of approximately 1%, supported by growing indications that the market was starting to rebalance. In a speech Thursday, Mohammad Barkindo, secretary-general at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said that the oil market is balancing at an “accelerated pace,” and demand will continue to rapidly grow in coming decades. Despite the bullish signals, analysts warned that OPEC needs to extend its agreement to reduce oil output beyond its current March 2018 expiry date in order to rebalance the market. The original deal, struck nearly a year ago between OPEC and 10 other non-OPEC countries led by Russia, was to cut production by 1.8 million barrels a day for six months. The agreement was extended in May of this year for a period of nine months until March 2018 in a bid to reduce global oil inventories and support oil prices. The cartel’s next meeting is set for November 30 in Vienna. In other energy trading Friday, gasoline futures advanced 3.3 cents, or 2%, to end at $1.678 on Friday. It closed up around 3.5% for the week. Heating oil rose 2.8 cents, or 1.6%, at $1.805 a gallon, ending roughly 0.5% higher for the week. Natural gas futures inched up 4.2 cents, or 1.5%, to settle at $2.915 per million British thermal units, paring the contract’s weekly loss to 2.8%. In the week ahead, market participants will eye fresh weekly information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products on Tuesday and Wednesday to gauge the strength of demand in the world’s largest oil consumer. Ahead of the coming week, has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets. Tuesday, October 24 The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, is to publish its weekly report on U.S. oil supplies. Wednesday, October 25 The U.S. Energy Information Administration is to release weekly data on oil and gasoline stockpiles. Thursday, October 26 The U.S. government is set to produce a weekly report on natural gas supplies in storage. Friday, October 27 Baker Hughes will release weekly data on the U.S. oil rig count.

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