Picture: 123RF/EVGENI BASHTA
Picture: 123RF/EVGENI BASHTA

London — Oil prices increased on Tuesday as unrest in Iraq and Ecuador raised supply concerns, but worries about US-China trade negotiations capped the market’s gains after US President Donald Trump said a quick deal is unlikely.

Brent crude rose 43c, or 0.7%, to $58.78 a barrel by 9.03am GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $53.12, up 37c, or 0.7%.

Protests in Opec members Iraq and Ecuador threatened to disrupt their oil output. The death toll in Iraq, the second-largest producer in oil cartel Opec, has climbed after a week of unrest.

“Unrest in Iraq gained a high profile at the start of October as a result of large protests in Baghdad,” RBC analyst Al Stanton said. He said potential attacks by Turkey on Kurdish forces in northeast Syria could take place close to the Iraqi border, leading to “a refugee crisis that puts pressures on Kurdistan’s economy” and its oil production. Turkey said it had completed preparations for a military operation in northeast Syria after the US began pulling back troops.

Meanwhile, the energy ministry in Ecuador, one of Opec’s smallest producers which is quitting the group next year, said protests against austerity could reduce its oil output by 59,450 barrels per day (bpd).

Ecuador’s state-run oil company Petroamazonas suspended operations at three oilfields in the Amazon region on Monday. Investors are treading cautiously ahead of US-China trade talks that will take place in Washington on Thursday, although prospects for progress dimmed after Washington blacklisted more Chinese firms.

“Oil prices could be in for a sustained rally if the [US] tariffs were to be put on hold indefinitely, which could see some of the braver at heart support dips,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, wrote in a note.

In the US, crude inventories are expected to have grown for a fourth week while distillates and petrol stocks likely fell, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

Hedge funds sold petroleum futures and options for a second week running as a price bounce after attacks last month on Saudi oil facilities evaporated, and attention shifted to a deteriorating global economy. Saudi oil production was temporarily reduced by the attacks. Riyadh said last week it had fully restored output.

Reuters