Oil prices rise with cold weather

Forecast for cold weather in coming weeks boosts oil prices, though market players still predict decline in prices in 2016 due to slowdown in global economy and supply glut

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A labourer works at Nahr Bin Umar oil field, north of Basra, southeast of Baghdad, November 23, 2014

Oil prices jumped about $1 a barrel on Tuesday, as prospects of colder weather in coming weeks inspired buying a day after prices slid 3 percent, but slowing global demand and abundant supplies from OPEC members kept energy markets bearish.

Global oil benchmark Brent and US crude's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose more than 2 percent each.

The two benchmarks have generally been in an uptrend over the past week as weather forecasts indicated the United States may get some cold winter temperatures following an unusually balmy autumn.

Expectations of a drawdown last week in US crude inventories fed the rally. A Reuters poll suggested that stockpiles fell 2.5 million barrels last week ahead of inventory reports from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday and the government-run Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.

Brent was up $1.02 at $37.64 a barrel. WTI was up 96 cents at $37.77, after reaching as high as $37.88.

But on a global level, traders and analysts said the global oil glut would persist into 2016.

"Fundamentals remain very bearish," said ING Bank analyst Hamza Khan, noting that Tuesday's rebound came amid low trading volumes.

Brent and WTI remain more than two-thirds below their mid-2014 prices, depressed by abundant US shale oil supplies and a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to pump near record volumes of crude to safeguard  market share.

On Monday, leading OPEC producer Saudi Arabia announced plans for spending cuts and non-oil revenue raising methods to manage a record state budget deficit while state-owned oil firm Saudi Aramco pumps away.

World oil production this year has exceeded demand by 2 million barrels per day at times. In 2016, Iran is expected to add its exports to the mix after Western sanctions on its oil come off.

"Iran is gearing up to flood the market with 500,000 bpd within weeks of sanctions being lifted," noted Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.