Hike in oil prices upon Libyan oilfields’ disruption

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks past a pump jack on an oil field owned by Bashneft in Bashkortostan, Russia, January 28, 2015. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

Reuters – Oil prices extended gains on Wednesday despite an increase in U.S. crude inventories, lifted by Libyan supply disruptions and expectations of an OPEC-led output cut being extended.

Front-month Brent crude futures rose 25 cents to $51.58 a barrel by 1217 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 22 cents at $48.59 a barrel.

Oil production from the western Libyan fields of Sharara and Wafa has been blocked by armed protesters, reducing output by some 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) and prompting the National Oil Corp to declare force majeure on Tuesday.

“That (Libya), along with the Iranian oil minister saying there is likely to be an extension to the production cut deal, helped crude oil rally overnight,” Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader, said.

OPEC member Libya was excluded from the cuts, agreed late last year, as the country’s oil sector suffered from the unrest that followed the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Tuesday that the agreement between OPEC and other producers led by Russia to cut output by 1.8 million bpd in the first half of 2017 was likely to be extended.

The higher prices came despite U.S. crude stocks rising by 1.9 million barrels to 535.5 million barrels. But fell at the Cushing hub, while gasoline and distillate stocks declined, the American Petroleum Institute said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due to publish official U.S. crude and fuel product data on Wednesday.

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