London/ Singapore: Oil prices rose on Tuesday, supported by a falling US dollar and Saudi Arabia saying it would adhere to organisation of petroleum exporting countries (Opec’s) commitment to cut output.
Gains were capped by rising US production and scepticism that the Opec as a whole would comply with its commitments to reduce supplies.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up 77 cents at $56.63 per barrel at 3.50pm. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 88 cents at $53.25 per barrel.
The dollar, along with stocks and bond yields, fell across the board on Tuesday after US President-elect Donald Trump said that the strong greenback was hurting US competitiveness.
Traders said oil drew some support from top crude exporter Saudi Arabia, which said it would adhere strictly to its commitment to cut output under the agreement between Opec and other producers like Russia.
Under the agreement, Opec, Russia and other non-Opec producers have pledged to cut oil output by nearly 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd), initially for six months, to bring supplies back in line with consumption.
“The market genuinely seems quite happy here (around $55) ... but people are watching with caution as the slightest hint of this Opec/non-Opec agreement going wrong is going to drive the market down,” said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker at Freight Investor Services (FIS) in Dubai.
Despite this, crude futures have fallen 5% since their early January peaks because of doubts over the oil producers’ willingness to fully comply with the cuts.
Traders are also watching rising US output with interest, as this could offset supply cuts elsewhere.
“The market is focused on the build in US production which is nearly up to 9 million bpd - up from 8.5 million bpd last June and close to 2014 production levels,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at Sydney’s CMC Markets.
“With US crude clearly above $50 a barrel, we are getting a supply-side response which is pushing production higher,” he said.
Further weighing on crude, at least in the short term, have been refinery outages in the Middle East and Asia over the past week, traders said.
Analysts also said that steps to prop up oil prices through a cut in supplies could be self-defeating.
“For each $10 per barrel increase in oil prices, oil demand will decline by 10 basis points. While consensus expects demand-growth of 1.3 million bpd in 2017 (vs 1.4 million bpd in 2016), we see risks to the downside as demand growth in China and India starts to moderate,” AB Bernstein said. Reuters