Brent, WTI Prices Steady

Brent, WTI Prices SteadyBrent, WTI Prices Steady

Oil prices were steady on Tuesday, as traders weighed up the dampening effect on demand of Hurricane Irma versus refinery restarts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey that should lead to more crude oil processing.

International benchmark Brent crude was down 4 cents, or 0.07%, at $53.80 per barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 3 cents, or 0.06%, at $48.04 a barrel, Reuters reported.

US refineries, including the largest US refinery Motiva Enterprises, have started to come back on stream. Motiva restarted production on Monday after being shut for about two weeks, as Hurricane Harvey ripped through the US Gulf coast.

On Harvey’s heels, Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida on Sunday, leaving more than 7.4 million homes and businesses without power, but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

US crude inventories likely rose last week following the hurricane impact, while refined product stockpiles were forecast to have declined, a preliminary Reuters poll showed.

Six analysts polled ahead of inventory reports from industry group the American Petroleum Institute and the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration estimated that on average crude stocks likely rose 2.3 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 8.

“The market is looking for a significant buildup in oil inventories,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “That’s not surprising given the disruption of refineries as consequences of hurricanes, so I guess there is a bit of caution here.”

As mixed market indicators kept oil prices in a range, RBC Capital Markets said in a note that it expected “WTI and Brent to average $49.30 and $52.50 per barrel this year before increasing to average $53 and $55.50 a barrel next year.”

Amid persistent glut concerns, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih had talks with his Venezuelan, Kazakh counterparts about the possibility of extending supply cuts beyond March 2018.

“Reports of an extension of the current production cut agreement continued to swirl around the market,” ANZ bank said in a note.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Saudi Arabia is the de facto leader, and other producers, including Russia, have agreed to curb output by around 1.8 million barrels per day until next March.


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