Oil rallies on acceleration of output cuts from OPEC nations

Oil rallies on acceleration of output cuts from OPEC nations

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil soared on Thursday, extending its rebound after major oil-producing nations said they would accelerate planned production cuts to combat the dramatic slump in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: A pumpjack is shown outside the Midland-Odessa area in the Permian basin in Texas, U.S., July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Liz Hampton/File Photo

Oil prices have had one of their most tumultuous weeks ever. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures (WTI) CLc1 closed at negative $37.63 on Monday, in the worst selloff for that contract in history. Global benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was slammed on Tuesday, hitting a two-decade low before rebounding.

Since the start of the year both benchmarks have lost more than two-thirds of their value. Fuel demand is down about 30% worldwide in April and supply will outstrip demand for months to come due to the pandemic.

Brent rose $1.90, or 9.4%, to $22.28 a barrel by 11:53 a.m. EDT (1553 GMT), while WTI jumped $4.02, or 29%, to $17.80.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producing nations, a grouping known as OPEC+, agreed this month to cut output by a record 9.7 million barrels per day, around 10% of global supply, to support oil prices, but prices continued to decline.

Kuwait said on Thursday that it had begun cutting oil supply to the international market, ahead of the May 1 date when the deal was supposed to take effect.

Whether that will be sufficient to offset weak demand is unclear. Rystad Energy cut its forecast for oil demand in 2020 to 89.2 million bpd, a 10% decline from 2019. Last week, the energy consultant projected demand would fall to 90.3 million bpd in 2020.

Graphic – Cushing crude stockpiles surge: here

The market was also higher in part after U.S. President Donald Trump said he instructed the U.S. Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it in the Gulf, although he added later he was not changing the military’s rules of engagement.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Tehran will destroy U.S. warships if its security is threatened in the Gulf.

“This ratchets up tensions once again between the U.S. and Iran. However, given the glut we have in the oil market, it is difficult to see this offering lasting support to the market, unless the situation does escalate further,” ING’s head of commodities strategy Warren Patterson said.

Graphic – OPEC’s share of India’s crude oil imports falls to record low: here

Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Barbara Lewis

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