The ‘Energy Chancellor’ crude oil tanker rides anchor while waiting to enter the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ISLAM SAFWAT
The ‘Energy Chancellor’ crude oil tanker rides anchor while waiting to enter the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ISLAM SAFWAT

Tokyo — Oil prices fell on Thursday after Opec+, an alliance of oil cartel Opec, agreed to keep its policy of gradually returning supply to the market at a time when coronavirus cases around the world are surging and many US refiners, a key source of crude demand, remained offline.

Brent crude was down by 16 US cents, or 0.2%, at $71.43 a barrel by 4.22am GMT, after dropping 4c on Wednesday. US oil fell 23c, or 0.3%, to $68.36 a barrel, after rising 9c in the previous session.

Opec and other producers including Russia, together known as Opec+, agreed on Wednesday to continue a policy of phasing out record production reductions by adding 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) each month to the market.

However, Opec+ raised its demand forecast for 2022 while also facing pressure to accelerate production increases from the Biden administration, which said it was “glad” the group had reaffirmed its commitment to raising supply.

“What is not so certain ... is whether demand will be able to grow as quickly as Opec+ and the market predicts, given the risk of new lockdowns to fight the unresolved Covid-mutant spread,” Rystad Energy’s head of oil markets, Bjornar Tonhaugen, said in a note.

In the US, oil refineries in Louisiana may take weeks to restart after Hurricane Ida swept through the region, with operators facing power and water shortages, which is likely to crimp demand for oil.

Energy companies were scrambling to restart platforms and pipelines in the Gulf, with about 1.4-million bpd of oil production still offline, the US offshore regulator said.

US crude inventories dropped by 7.2-million barrels and petroleum products supplied by refiners rose to a record despite the increase in coronavirus infections across the country, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

“Stocks seem likely to rise in the weeks ahead as reports suggest that refinery activity will take longer to restart than crude production in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida,” said Kieran Clancy, commodities economist at Capital Economics.

Reuters

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