Brent nears $100, up 34 cents

Crude oil prices 119 April 2013, London – UK Brent crude oil rose near $100 a barrel, Friday, as it saw gains in two straight sessions.

Worries about higher crude output in the US and lower global demand, however, acted as a check on prices.

Brent for June delivery was up 34 cents to $99.47 a barrel early on Friday, extending Thursday’s 1.47% gain. US crude was up 48 cents to $88.21, after settling up 1.21%.

But front-month oil prices are set to fall for a third straight week, pummelled by a cut in oil demand forecasts by global energy agencies and a slew of weak economic data from the US and China, the world’s two largest oil consumers.

“We have seen a big decline in prices since early this month so I’m not surprised if markets come back by $2,” said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan.

“It is still possible for oil to fall further from oversupply,” he said, adding that Brent could hit as low as $90 in the next couple of months.

Oil prices are down nearly $10 a barrel from the start of this month. Data showing China’s economic growth unexpectedly slowed in the first three months of 2013 sparked a sell-off this week, causing Brent to hit the lowest since July and US futures to slip to a 2013 low.

“The past week has seen a dramatic reaction to the realisation that the market’s global growth outlook had perhaps been too optimistic,” Marc Ground, a commodities strategist at Standard Bank said in an 18 April note.

“While this may have been an overreaction, which could see some upside return over the coming weeks, we feel that the potential for a return to the strength of first quarter 2013 is highly unlikely.”
US oil demand rose slightly in March, but was still at the second-lowest level for the month in 16 years, industry group American Petroleum Institute said.

Oil production by the US is set to surpass the amount of crude it imports for the first time since 1995 later this year, the US Energy Information Administration said last month.

Brent’s fall below $100 has drawn comments from oil hawks Iran and Venezuela that Opec could call for an emergency meeting even though the group is due to meet at the end of May.

“I don’t think they’ll have an emergency meeting as prices are holding unless the market falls faster than expected,” Newedge’s Hasegawa said, adding that Opec was unlikely to cut supply as demand could rebound in the second half of the year.

Supply disruptions, especially in Africa, are supporting oil prices. Widespread oil theft in Nigeria prompted Shell to shut down a 150,000 barrel per day pipeline on Monday for six weeks while a probe into an 2 April blast on pipelines to the Libyan oil port of Zueitina pointed to sabotage.

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