Crude oil prices continued to rise on Thursday, still supported by news in the previous session of a lower than expected rise in U.S. inventories and after Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its commitment to curtail production.
Elsewhere, Brent oil for April delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London gained 45 cents or about 0.67% to $64.79 a barrel, also the highest since February 8.
Prices were boosted after Khalid al-Falih, Saudi energy minister said his country will be “sticking” with its policy to withhold production throughout 2018.
Saudi Arabia, the de-facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with some non-OPEC members led by Russia, agreed in December to extend oil output cuts until the end of 2018.
The deal to cut oil output by 1.8 million barrels a day (bpd) was adopted last winter by OPEC, Russia and nine other global producers. The agreement was due to end in March 2018, having already been extended once.
Oil prices also strengthened after the Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday showed that U.S. inventories rose by 1.841 million barrels in the week ended February 9, below expectations for a rise of 2.825 million barrels.
However, the report also showed that U.S. crude oil production rose to a fresh record of 10.27 million barrels per day (bpd), more than top exporter Saudi Arabia and not far from the biggest world producer, Russia.
Fears that rising U.S. output could dampen OPEC’s efforts to rid the market of excess supplies have weighed on oil prices recently.
Elsewhere, gasoline futures gained 0.48% to $1.724 a gallon, while natural gas futures lost 1.66% to $2.543 per million British thermal units.
Frontpage January 4, 2018