- Brent hits highest since Oct. 2018, WTI at highest since July.
- As OPEC reopens taps, African giants losing race to pump more.
- Surging prices of LNG, coal may boost oil prices further.
Oil markets climbed for a sixth day on Tuesday, reversing earlier losses, on fears over tight supply while surging prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal also lent support.
Brent crude futures gained $1.05, or 1.3%, to $80.58 a barrel at 0645 GMT, after reaching its highest since October 2018 at $80.75 earlier in the session. It surged 1.8% on Monday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $1.06, or 1.4%, to $76.51 a barrel, the highest since July 6. It jumped 2% the previous day.
"Investors remained bullish as supply disruptions in the United States from hurricanes are continuing for longer than expected at a time when demand is picking up due to easing lockdown measures and the wider rollouts of COVID-19 vaccination," said Chiyoki Chen, chief analyst at Sunward Trading.
Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas, which swept through the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in August and September, damaged platforms, pipelines and processing hubs, shutting most offshore production for weeks.
Also weighing on supply, top African oil exporters Nigeria and Angola will struggle to boost output to their quotas set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) until at least next year as underinvestment and nagging maintenance problems continue to hobble output, sources at their respective oil firms warn.
Their battle mirrors that of several other members of the OPEC+ group who curbed production in the past year to support prices when COVID-19 hit demand, but are now failing to ramp up output to meet soaring global fuel needs as economies recover.
The supply issues are occurring as countries ease their COVID-19 movement restrictions, potentially boosting demand.
Japan, the world's fifth-biggest oil user, plans to lift a coronavirus state of emergency in all regions on Thursday as the number of new cases falls and the strain on the medical system eases, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.
Analysts also say rising prices of spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal may support higher oil prices.
"Oil demand could pick up by an additional 0.5 million barrels per day, or 0.5% of global oil supply, as high gas prices force a switch from gas to oil consumption," Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.
He added that energy prices could rally from here if the Northern Hemisphere winter proved colder than expected.
China is in the grip of a power crunch as a shortage of coal supplies, tougher emissions standards and strong demand from manufacturers and industry have pushed coal prices to record highs and triggered widespread curbs on usage.