Oil Prices Jump Above $65 - First Since 2015

OPEC headquarters in Vienna- last month the cartel agreed along with Russia to continue output curbs Wikimedia Commons

OPEC headquarters in Vienna- last month the cartel agreed along with Russia to continue output curbs Wikimedia Commons

Kilduff was referring to the shutdown by Ineos of the North Sea pipeline due to cracks that are expected to take anywhere from several weeks to a month to fix, thus potentially removing as much as much as 13 million barrels of crude from the market.

Despite the International Energy Agency sending profoundly mixed signals about the true state of the crude market, West Texas Intermediate on Thursday settled up 44 cents to $57.04 per barrel while Brent rose 87 cents to $63.31 per barrel.

Britain's Forties oil pipeline, the country's largest at a capacity of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), shut down on Monday after cracks were revealed. "At this stage, it is still too early to say how quickly the fix will take, but it is expected to be a matter of weeks rather than days".

Prices for oil were paring back earlier gains by mid-morning in London as concerns over a pipeline outage in the North Sea were offset by signs of rising output from USA producers.

This poses challenges for OPEC's hope of draining global stocks.

INEOS told clients on Tuesday it expected any fix work to last at least two weeks.

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According to data compiled by Bloomberg, the Forties shutdown will remove an additional 5.5 million to 13 million barrels from the market by the time the pipeline is restarted.

Beyond that supply disruption, the market was broadly supported by efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russian Federation to curb output in their bid to end a supply glut, traders and analysts said. Stocks fell by 5.1 million barrels in the week to December 8, the fourth consecutive week of decline, to 442.99 million barrels, the lowest since October 2015.

Now the Forties pipeline shutdown is tightening further the market in Europe, and traders have started scrambling for cargoes of medium sour blends instead, trading sources tell Platts.

Total also produces about 55,000 bpd of oil from the field.

The main impact on the Brent futures is the surge for contracts for deliveries in February and March, Reuters market analyst John Kemp notes.

Prices have been supported by an outage on the Forties crude pipeline that was expected to last several weeks. "The pipeline ... is a significant component underpinning the Brent benchmark". This outage may accelerate the pace of shrinking global inventories and give OPEC's efforts an unexpected boost.

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