Oil Price Hits Two-Year High as OPEC Sees More Demand
Members of OPEC and their allies relaxed production cuts as demand continues to improve and erode the supply glut
Brent crude closed at its highest level since May 2019.
The global oil-price benchmark closed above $70 a barrel forward the first time in two years Tuesday on investors’ optimism that improving demand and a dwindling supply glut may mean the market can absorb any additional production from OPEC and its allies.
Brent crude rose 93 cents, or 1.3%, to $70.25 a barrel, the highest close since May 2019. West Texas Intermediate futures gained $1.40, or 2.1%, to $67.72 a barrel. The U.S. gauge settled at its highest level since October 2018.
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, a group known as OPEC+, on Tuesday agreed to continue relaxing curbs on oil production, signaling their confidence in improving oil demand and a drop in the global supply glut. Prices began rallying after a technical committee within the cartel on Monday confirmed forecasts for a rebound of six million barrels a day in world oil demand this year, according to people familiar with OPEC and its allies.
Vaccination programs are enabling governments across North America and Europe to reduce coronavirus restrictions and resume more normal economic activity. That will help pare global oil stocks—which at one point last year threatened to overwhelm the world’s ability to store them—to below their five-year average by the end of July for the 2015-19 period, the OPEC committee projected. In the U.S., oil and oil-product inventories have fallen more than expected in recent weeks, thanks in part to a pickup in demand for transportation fuels.
“The bull recipe for the oil market is still intact: reviving demand, muted U.S. shale oil response together with controlled and restrictive supply from OPEC+, resulting in further declines in inventories and yet higher oil prices,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at Swedish bank SEB.
By David Hodari
©The Wall Street Journal