Energy

Oil prices rise on report OPEC agrees to cut by 1.5 million barrels per day if Russia agrees

Key Points
  • Brent crude rose by 46 cents, or 0.9%, to $51.58 per barrel by 0734 GMT.
  • While U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up by 37 cents, or 0.8%, at $47.15 per barrel.
An offshore oil platform.
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Oil prices were higher on Thursday, shortly after two sources told Reuters that OPEC provisionally agreed to cut production by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd).

OPEC will now look to secure backing from non-OPEC partners, most notably Russia, on Friday.

International benchmark Brent crude traded at $51.52 Thursday morning, up around 0.8%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $47.10, around 0.7% higher.

"An agreement to reduce the OPEC+ group output level by at least 1 million bpd is imperative, otherwise oil prices will re-visit the recent lows and possibly break below them," said oil broker PVM's Tamas Varga.

Robert Ryan, chief energy strategist at BCA Research also said the absence of a new output deal would depress the market.

"We would expect a sell-off in crude oil that takes Brent prices below $50 per barrel, and WTI into the mid-$40s," he said, referring to the impact of a failure to agree new cuts.

Prices were supported earlier in the session by a lower-than-expected rise in crude oil inventories in the United States, alleviating some concerns of oversupply in the world's biggest oil consumer.

U.S. crude stocks rose modestly last week, less than analysts had expected, while U.S. oil exports rose to more than 4 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time since December, suggesting a rise in overseas demand.

Concerns over demand growth remained, however. The head of the International Monetary Fund said the global spread of the virus has crushed hopes for stronger economic gains this year.

China's top gas importer PetroChina has declared force majeure on natural gas imports following the coronavirus outbreak. 

The company issued the notice, which allows the suspension of contractual obligations because of exceptional circumstances, to suppliers of piped gas and also to at least one liquefied natural gas supplier, although details could not immediately be confirmed.

— CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.