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The November Brent crude futures contract was up $1.51, or 2.5 per cent, at $58.37 a barrel, its highest since July 2015.

Analysts said oil prices appeared supported by the growing notion that OPEC member countries will be more disciplined with their production hereon, after experiencing one of the worst price slumps in history from a three-year long glut in world crude supplies. The U.S. government on Wednesday announced a build of 4.6 million barrels for the week ended September 15.

If shale producers respond with increased investment and stronger output growth, it will be a clear indication that it is their price needs, not those of Opec countries, that will determine some sort of equilibrium around which oil prices will fluctuate.

Brent has jumped from just over $55 a barrel a week ago, as OPEC and non-OPEC producers confirmed the market was well on its way toward rebalancing, while oil inventories declined.

But this divergence does not seem to have deterred consumers, who have absorbed a large overhang of unused crude in the last six weeks and pushed up prices for some physical barrels of oil to multi-month or even multi-year highs.

Nigeria may be ready to give up its status as an OPEC member exempt from the effort to balance the market with production cuts, Russia's oil minister said.

Even as both contracts rallied, concerns about USA production growth weighed on WTI, widening the spread between the two, he said.

The spread between WTI and Brent futures widened to $6.61, its steepest since August 2015.

However, the number of US oil rigs operating, an indicator of future production, fell for the third straight week as a 14-month drilling recovery stalled as companies pared back on spending plans when crude prices were softer.

Once the market recognises the United States forecasting error, Mr Hamm said, crude prices could rise to US$60 a barrel from around US$50 now. While demand has yet to catch up to elevated supplies, rebounding economies in Europe and steady economic growth in the USA could at least keep oil prices steady around current levels in the second half of 2017.

Ri was speaking to reporters in NY when he was asked what North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had meant when he threatened in an earlier statement the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history" against the United States.

Global demand growth is higher than that seen in the last couple of years, "coming somewhere close to 1.6 to 1.7 million barrels per day and is driven by distillates", Janet Kong, BP's chief executive, supply and trading, Eastern Hemisphere, told the Singapore conference.


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