Oil rises 30 cents, settling at $57.46, as UK pipeline outage offsets rising US supply

Key Points
  • The continued North Sea Forties pipeline outage is supporting Brent crude prices.
  • Rising U.S. output is countering OPEC supply cuts.
  • U.S. crude inventories are expected to fall for fifth week.
A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Co. near Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Nick Oxford | Reuters

Oil edged up towards $64 a barrel on Tuesday, supported by the Forties pipeline outage in the North Sea, OPEC-led supply cuts and expectations that U.S. crude inventories had fallen for a fifth week.

But rising output in the United States has put a lid on gains. Shale production will rise to a record in January, according to a government forecast published on Monday, as higher prices encourage increased drilling.

U.S. crude ended Tuesday's session up 30 cents to $57.46. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up 59 cents to $63.82 a barrel at 2:28 p.m. ET (1928 GMT).

The shutdown of the North Sea's Forties pipeline since last week has supported Brent, as Forties is the largest of the five crude grades underpinning the benchmark. On Dec. 12, Brent reached $65.83, its highest since mid-2015.

RBC's Helima Croft: US shale production is going to come back in 2018

"You've had a little surge because the pipeline is still plaguing the North Sea," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, "It's enough to sway some market sentiment but a lot of it is already priced in."

Ineos, operator of the Forties pipeline, said on Tuesday it was moving forward with a preferred repair option and the timeframe for the fix remained two to four weeks starting from Dec. 11, the date of the shutdown.

Oil ticked up after reports that a missile was fired at Riyadh from Yemen, but pared gains after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted the missile and no casualties were reported.

A deal by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member producers including Russia to cut supplies in an attempt to get rid of a supply glut that has built up since 2014 has also boosted prices.

OPEC and its allies have extended the agreement until the end of 2018 and Russia's Rosneft said on Monday it could be maintained beyond next year.

As a result of the cuts, oil inventories are falling globally and the latest weekly supply reports are expected to show a further reduction in U.S. crude inventories.

US oil net imports haven't done this since 1985: ClipperData's Matt Smith

The first of these reports, from the American Petroleum Institute, is due at 2130 GMT on Tuesday.

Still, rising U.S. production is countering OPEC's cuts and other supply losses.

U.S. shale output in January is forecast to increase by 94,000 barrels per day to 6.41 million bpd, according to the EIA's monthly drilling productivity report.

"The U.S. shale oil report issued late yesterday is on the bearish side as it confirms an acceleration in U.S. production," said Olivier Jakob, analyst at Petromatrix.

That forecast follows an EIA prediction last week that total oil production, including non-shale, will grow by 780,000 bpd to a record 10.02 million bpd in 2018.