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Oil Prices Ease But Hold Near Four-Week Highs

27 October 2017, 01:06 | Melanie Burgess

Oil prices higher on Iraq tensions, slower supply

Brent crude oil above $57, nearing the highest close since 2015

Oil fell towards $57 a barrel on Tuesday as crude flows through Iraq's northern pipeline to Ceyhan in Turkey rose further, offsetting an expected fall in US crude inventories.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, speaking during an investment conference in Riyadh, said on Tuesday the focus remained on reducing the level of oil stocks in OECD industrialised countries to their five-year average.

At the same time, President Donald Trump's decision not to recertify Iran's compliance with a 2015 worldwide agreement to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear program has also supported oil prices. "There's nervousness (about Kurdistan) in the market, but I think that the production cut.is really driving traders".

Meanwhile, the extended oil output-cut which was extended until March 2018 is expected help the crude prices up these next months; and with the participation of OPEC countries and Non-OPEC countries such as Russian Federation, the market can expect a strong crude.

Brent futures LCOc1 gained 86 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $59.30 a barrel, its highest close since July 3, 2015. Western Texas Intermediate crude, meanwhile, was at the $52 per barrel level.

In May, they chose to extend the deal until the end of March, largely because their efforts to balance the market have been offset by increasing United States shale production.

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Saudi Arabia and Iraq are the largest and second largest producers of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

U.S. crude inventories rose by 856,000 barrels last week, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed on Wednesday, versus analysts' forecast for a 2.6 million-barrel draw.

Preliminary data from the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, said U.S. crude oil stocks rose 519,000 barrels in the week as refined products drew.

Crude prices have risen over the past few weeks following an independence referendum in Iraq's northern, semiautonomous Kurdish region. Asian demand in particular has been strong, with crude flows to India rising to a new high last month, at 4.6 million barrels a day, according to energy data provider Kpler. USA oil exports, according to an emailed market report from S&P Global Platts, have "exploded" since late September and put more oil on the global market, offsetting some of the inventory build.

Iraq has adhered less to the supply deal with non-OPEC producers than OPEC peers such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but the drop in its October shipments, if sustained, will help boost Iraqi and overall compliance with the deal.

Elections for the presidency and parliament of Iraq's Kurdistan region set for Nov 1 have been delayed by eight months, the regional parliament announced Tuesday.

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