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Light, sweet crude oil prices on the New York market and Brent crude oil prices on the London market surged by more than $1/bbl on Feb. 1 as traders and analysts shrugged off a big jump in the US oil inventory report.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, raised pricing for March sales to buyers from the U.S. to Asia as output cuts by OPEC and other producers shore up oil prices.
Brent crude was up 50 cents at $57.30 a barrel by 1115 GMT (6:15 a.m. ET) after settling up $1.22 in the previous session. U.S. light crude gained 30 cents to $54.18 after climbing by $1.07 on Wednesday.
A measure of oil volatility last month averaged the lowest in more than two years and futures in New York have been stuck between $50 and $55 a barrel since OPEC and other producing nations agreed Dec. 10 to reduce output. Price estimates compiled by Bloomberg show crude will average $52 during the first quarter this year, rising to $58 in the last three months of 2017.
Therefore, OPEC has raised its supply to Asia, and Russia has also re-routed a great chunk of its rising production toward China and the Asia-Pacific over the past decade. Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as China's biggest supplier last year, exporting 1.05 million bpd of crude versus Saudi Arabia's 1.02 million.
Brent crude LCOc1 was up 25 cents at $55.83 a barrel at 0954 GMT, having traded in a narrow 53-cent range so far in the session. U.S. crude CLc1 rose 26 cents to $53.07.
Brent crude oil LCOc1 was down 20 cents a barrel at $55.03 by 0900 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was down 30 cents a barrel at $52.33.
London Brent crude for March delivery had dropped 28 cents to $55.24 a barrel by 0657 GMT, after settling down 72 cents on Friday. NYMEX crude for March delivery was down 23 cents at $52.90 a barrel.
Igor Yusufov, Russia’s energy minister from 2001 to 2004, said U.S. shale producers wouldn’t attempt to enter core OPEC and Russia markets where prices are too low for them to compete. “The fact is that shale oil and gas are doing well in markets that start from a certain price,” he said in an email exchange with The Wall Street Journal.
Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were trading at $55.59 per barrel at 0313 GMT, up 51 cents, or 0.93 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $53.22 a barrel, up 47 cents, or 0.89 percent.