27 February 2015 – Crude oil futures rebounded on Friday, with Brent heading for its biggest monthly gain since May 2009, as supply outages in the North Sea and renewed fears of gas supply disruption in Europe supported prices.A reduction in rig counts and expectations for better oil demand have helped Brent prices rise by around 15% so far this month from January’s close of $52.99.
US crude is also on course for its first monthly rise in eight, but with a more modest gain of about 1.3%.
Brent crude rose 98 cents to $61.03 a barrel by 0455 GMT. US crude was also up 91 cents at $49.08.
Norwegian company Statoil has shut its Statfjord C platform in the North Sea after discovering cracks in the platform’s flare tower.
The entire Statfjord field, which includes two other platforms, produced about 81,000 barrels of oil equivalents last year.
Elsewhere in Europe, gas supply talks between the European Union, Ukraine and Russia will be held in Brussels on Monday after President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would halt gas supplies to Ukraine that can cause disruptions in deliveries to Europe. But analysts doubted the threat had substance.
In the US, a reduction in rig counts coupled with a slump in upstream investments supported expectations that production could be trimmed going forward.
The active drilling rig count in North Dakota, the country’s second largest oil producing state, dropped to 119 on 26 February, versus 193 last year, state data showed.
“I do think over time there will be lower oil production but that would take time. And investors are pulling that into current prices,” said Tony Nunan, a risk manager at Mitsubishi in Tokyo.
Asia is not spared, as the downturn in oil prices is making it harder to attract future investments in Malaysia.
While supplies from Libya increased to 100,000 barrels a day on Thursday, up from 40,000 bpd, Spain’s Repsol said the company has little hope of restarting production there in the short-term citing security problems.
Still, oversupply worries persist and could limit oil gains especially if inventories in the US continue to build until tanks are full, Nunan said.
An anaemic refinery throughput pushed up US crude inventories by 8.4 million barrels last week, a key reason behind Thursday’s hefty slide in oil prices.