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Oil prices get a boost from Libya supply issues


Oil prices rose Monday, supported by reports of supply disruptions in Libya over the weekend as traders weighed comments from the International Energy Agency on U.S. production and global demand growth.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, April West Texas Intermediate crudeCLJ8, +1.98%  rose $1.43, or 2.3%, to $62.68 a barrel. May Brent crudeLCOK8, +1.76% the global oil benchmark, was up $1.39, or 2.2%, at $65.76 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange.

Reports over the weekend that Libyan production fell by around 380,000 barrels a day helped the markets recover some of last week’s losses. Both WTI and Brent futures suffered weekly losses of nearly 4%.

“This production is very wobbly,” said Giovanni Staunovo, commodities analyst at UBS Wealth Management, referring to repeated disruptions, adding that the political situation in Libya remained unstable.

S&P Global Platts reported early Monday, however, that Libya could see an increase in output in the coming days after the reopening of a key crude oil export pipeline from Libya’s Sharara field, following its closure on Sunday.

The Libya output disruption “shouldn’t have caused that big of a jump [in oil prices], especially since it has been an off-and-on issue for a while now and the risk is largely priced in,” Tyler Richey, co-editor of the Sevens Report, told MarketWatch. Instead,” it could have been enough of a catalyst ... to get the short-covering going” and once WTI got past $62, “short covering started to pick up and that amplified the move higher.”


The outages also compounded supply issues already seen from major producer Venezuela as the country struggles with an economic crisis. On Thursday, Venezuela’s election agency said a presidential vote planned for April 22 had been delayed by a month, adding to political and economic uncertainty.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency on Monday forecast the U.S. would become the world’s top crude producer by 2023 with production hitting a record of 12.1 million barrels a day. This is around 2 million barrels a day higher than 2018 production.

However, Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group, said “global oil demand obviously is much stronger that people think it is, or maybe shale oil production is not as prolific as the [IEA] keeps telling us it is.”

The IEA said that “rising oil production from the U.S. alone will need to cover 80% of the world’s demand growth over the next two years,” with U.S. output set to grow by 3.7 million barrels per day over the next five years, according to Flynn.

“If they are wrong and the U.S. misses that growth target, it is likely the globe will be woefully undersupplied,” he said.

The IEA also mentioned the “need for more investment in upstream oil operations, which still hasn’t come back since the oil market washout we saw between mid-2014 and early-2016,” said Richey. “The lack of investment in production operations could mean supply side challenges down the road, which is price positive from a risk-management perspective.”

Rounding out action in the energy market, April gasoline NGJ18, +0.04% rose 1% to $1.921 a gallon. April heating oil HOJ8, +0.86%  added 0.7% to $1.893 a gallon. Natural-gas futures for the same month NGJ18, +0.04%  traded at $2.711 per million British thermal units, up 0.6%.




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