Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

Oil prices looking above $70 over tighter supplies, healthy demand

Oil prices firmed on Wednesday on tightening supply and strong global demand although some analysts warned of a downward correction after a more than 13 per cent price rise in a month.

The rise may soar within days if militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), put paid to their threats of bombardments on key offshore facilities to press home their demands of government’s actions on agreed terms.

Indication had emerged showing that prices have been driven up by production curbs in OPEC nations and Russia as well as by healthy demand-growth.

According to a recent report, Brent crude futures were at $69.35 at 0124 GMT, up 20 cents or 0.3 per cent from their last close.

Brent had on Monday hit $70.37 a barrel, its highest since December 2014, which was at the beginning of a three-year oil price slump.

Besides, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at 63.93 dollars a barrel, up 20 cents or 0.3 per cent from their last settlement, while WTI hit a December-2014 peak of $64.89 a barrel on Tuesday.

However, in an effort to tighten markets and prop up prices, OPEC and Russia started to withhold production in January last year and the cuts are set to last through 2018.

This restraint, reports said has coincided with healthy oil demand and economic growth, pushing up crude prices by more than 13 per cent since early December.

Norbert Ruecker, Head of Commodity Research at Swiss Bank said “Oil remains underpinned by the solid economy with strong oil demand tightening global oil inventories. The past years’ surplus supplies are slowly disappearing”.

Investigations also showed that U.S. crude stocks fell by 11.2 million barrels in the week to Jan. 5 to 416.6 million barrels, an industry group, the American Petroleum Institute, said on Tuesday.

“After years of oversupply, the inventories are contracting much faster than the markets had anticipated,” said Stephen Innes, Head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

Despite this, Ruecker warned that “hedge fund expectations for further rising prices have reached excessive levels”, especially as political risk factors that have helped boost Brent, including tensions in Qatar, Kurdish regions and in Iran have so far not caused significant supply disruptions.