Oil extends gains

February 3, 2015 08:52 AM

Oil advanced for a fourth day, the longest run of gains since August, amid speculation that production may be curbed. Gasoline rose because of a strike at U.S. refineries that account for 10% of the nation’s capacity.

BP Plc said today it will cut spending by 13% after oil prices slumped. U.S. drillers idled 94 rigs last week, the most in Baker Hughes Inc. data starting in 1987. Hedge funds and other speculators held the largest number of short contracts in WTI in four years last week. The U.S. refinery stoppage, which started Feb. 1 at nine sites, has halted one plant while management has taken control of operations at six others.

Brent crude is poised to enter a bull market after rebounding from a collapse. It’s still down 51% since June. Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc lowered their spending targets for this year as the industry cut more than $40 billion from budgets since Nov. 1. Libyan exports dropped to a six-month low in January, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“The momentum clearly points to the upside. Many people have jumped on the bandwagon,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “Sentiment has made a U-turn and the supply situation is being reassessed.”

West Texas Intermediate for March delivery rose as much as $1.98, or 4%, to $51.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $50.89 at 1:43 p.m. London time. Futures closed at $44.45 on Jan. 28, the lowest since March 2009. The volume of all futures traded was about 85% above the 100-day average for the time of day.

U.S. Strike

Brent for March settlement climbed as much as $2.48, or 4.5%, to $57.23 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. That’s 23% higher than its Jan. 13 close of $46.59, the lowest in almost six years. A gain of 20% in closing prices is commonly referred to as a bull market. The European benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.43 to WTI.

BP expects to cut spending to $20 billion this year, compared with previous guidance of $24 billion to $26 billion. It spent about $23 billion in 2014.

Gasoline futures for March delivery advanced as much as 3.4% to $1.5972 a gallon in New York, gaining for a fourth day.

Steelworkers Union

The United Steelworkers union, which represents workers at more than 200 refineries, terminals, pipelines and chemical plants, rejected five offers made by Shell on behalf of companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron since talks began Jan. 21. The sites affected by the halt can produce about 1.82 million barrels a day of fuel, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Tesoro Corp. said on Monday that it was halting operations at its Martinez, California refinery. Half its capacity was already offline for maintenance.

U.S. refiners probably cut operating rates by 1%age point in the week ended Jan. 30, according to the median estimate in the Bloomberg survey of five analysts. Runs averaged 85.5% of capacity through Jan. 16, the lowest since April 2013, said the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

Crude stockpiles probably expanded by 3.75 million barrels last week as refiners reduced processing, a Bloomberg News survey shows before an Energy Information Administration report on Wednesday.

Rig Count

The U.S. oil rig count dropped to a three-year low of 1,223 last week, Baker Hughes said Jan. 30. Drillers idled 352 oil rigs in eight weeks.

Oil will probably trade from $40 to $60 a barrel for the next three years, BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of supply out there,” Dudley said. “For us, the prudent way to manage the company is to plan on one, two, three years and rebase so that we can balance our sources and uses of funds at $50.”

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which supplies about 40% of the world’s oil, pumped 30.91 million barrels a day in January, according to a separate Bloomberg survey. That exceeded its target of 30 million for an eighth straight month as Iraq and Saudi Arabia boosted output while Libya production fell.

Libyan crude exports declined 38% to 245,000 barrels a day in January, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

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