WTI holds gains near $51 as OPEC sees recovery, storm curbs U.S. output

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo, right. Image: OPEC

Oil held gains near $51 a barrel as OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo reiterated a rapid market re-balancing is under way, while U.S. production was again disrupted by a storm.

Futures added 0.7 percent in New York after advancing 3.3 percent the previous two sessions. The global economic recovery has gained traction and oil de-stocking gathered pace in recent months, Barkindo said Tuesday. Producers in the U.S. Gulf have cut output by a million barrels a day, or 59 percent, because of Tropical Storm Nate, the Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement said.

Oil has inched higher in the past few days -- following the biggest weekly loss since May -- on signs of tighter supply. U.S. crude stockpiles probably fell by 2.4 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey before an Energy Information Administration report Thursday. Barkindo, speaking in New Delhi, said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had boosted oil-demand estimates for this year and next.

“OPEC is talking to a market which is currently prepared to listen, given the visible improvements seen during the past few months,” said Ole Sloth Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S.

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery was at $51.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 33 cents, at 12:39 p.m. London time. Total volume traded was in line with the 100-day average. Prices rose $1.34 to $50.92 on Tuesday, the biggest gain in two weeks.

Brent for December settlement climbed 16 cents to $56.77 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, after jumping 82 cents on Tuesday. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.21 to December WTI.

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