* U.S. crude stocks down for fourth straight week
* Ongoing Forties pipeline outages also supports oil prices
* But U.S. production rises to nearly 10 mln bpd
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Oil markets rose on Thursday,
lifted by a fourth straight weekly fall in U.S. crude
inventories, though climbing output capped prices well below the
2015 highs reached earlier this week.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were
at $56.77 a barrel at 0752 GMT, up 17 cents, or 0.3 percent from
their last settlement.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for
oil prices, were at $62.84 a barrel, up 40 cents, or 0.6 percent
from their last close.
U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell by 5.1 million barrels in the
week to Dec. 8, the fourth consecutive week of decline, to
442.99 million barrels, the lowest since October 2015.
Traders said reports that the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other non-OPEC producers
may be planning output cuts beyond the current timeframe which
sees curbs until the end of 2018, also supported Brent.
Despite the price gain, Brent was well below $65.83 a
barrel, the June 2015 high touched earlier this week. It hit
that level after the Forties pipeline - which carries
significant amounts of the North Sea crude used to underpin
Brent crude futures - was shut down due to cracks.
"The discovery of a crack in an onshore portion of the
Forties Pipeline System disrupts over 400,000 bpd of UK oil
production and removes one of four streams that serve as the
physical benchmark for ICE Brent futures," Barclays bank said on
Despite this, the International Energy Agency has said it
saw no immediate need to act, for instance with the release of
strategic stockpiles, as the market remains well supplied.
"The next four weeks or so should be interesting. If the
market is able to survive without the Forties supply, its
returning on stream could trigger a major sell-off," said Sukrit
Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.
Another cap on prices has been soaring U.S. oil production
<C-OUT-T-EIA>, which has risen by 16 percent since mid-2016 to
9.78 million barrels per day, the highest since the early 1970s
and close to levels from top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Singapore's OCBC bank said on Thursday in its 2018
commodities outlook that a "further rise in prices could well be
met by stronger U.S. production as shale oil players turn taps
on", suggesting oil prices may not rise too far in 2018.
"A lot of, perhaps all, the current news about tightness in
the oil market is already priced in," said Greg McKenna, chief
market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford and
First Published: 2017-12-14 03:36:48
Updated 2017-12-14 09:56:13
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