oil prices rise 1%, settling at $71.01, but posts 2nd straight weekly loss

Oil prices rose by about one percent on Friday as strike actions in Norway and Iraq hit supplies, but futures were set for a second straight week of decline after Libyan ports reopened and on the view that Iran might still export some crude despite U.S. sanctions.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude ended Friday’s session up 68 cents cents, or 1 percent, to $71.01. The contract fell nearly 4 percent over the last five days, marking its second straight weekly loss.

Brent crude were up $1.11, or 1.5 percent, at $75.56 a barrel by 2:18 p.m. ET, heading for a weekly fall of 2 percent.

The market, however, found support on Friday from supply concerns.

Hundreds of workers on Norwegian offshore oil and gas rigs went on strike on Tuesday after rejecting a proposed wage deal, closing Shell’s Knarr field, which produces 23,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

In Iraq, about 100 protesters demanding jobs and better services from Iraq’s leaders closed access to Umm Qasr commodities port near the southern city of Basra on Friday, port employees said.

“Persistently declining oil supplies from Venezuela and simmering strike actions in Norway and Iraq are prompting bullish sentiment,” said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

Crude futures approached $80 in June and early July due to Libyan and Venezuelan supply disruptions and fears the United States would press all buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports to zero from November.

But prices weakened in recent days as OPEC member Libya reopened its ports in the east and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would consider granting waivers to some of Iran’s crude buyers.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that a deal under which Russia would provide goods to Iran in exchange for oil is still possible. Russia is studying all legal issues related to the possible deal, he said.

Prices also slid amid broader market fears that a U.S.-China trade dispute could hit global economic growth.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned on Thursday that the world was short of spare supply capacity and hence any new disruption could further elevate oil prices.

“Rising production from Middle East Gulf countries and Russia, welcome though it is, comes at the expense of the world’s spare capacity cushion, which might be stretched to the limit,” the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly report.

“This vulnerability currently underpins oil prices and seems likely to continue doing so,” the agency said.

IEA also said demand for crude oil will be softer than previously expected in the second half of the year.

The U.S. oil rig count remained steady at 863 in the week to July 13, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday. The rate of growth has slowed over the past month or so with a decline in crude prices from late May through late June.

Source: Reuters