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Oil prices rise on North Sea pipeline outage


SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose on Monday amid an ongoing North Sea pipeline outage and because a strike by Nigerian oil workers threatened its crude exports.

Signs that booming US crude output growth may be slowing also supported crude prices, although the 2018 outlook still points to ample supply despite production cuts led by Opec.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $63.72 a barrel at 0821 GMT, up 49 cents, or 0.8 per cent, from their last close.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $57.70 a barrel, up 40 cents, or 0.7 per cent.

The higher prices came on the back of a strike by Nigerian oil workers and the ongoing North Sea Forties pipeline system outage, which provides crude that underpins the Brent benchmark.

North Sea operator Ineos declared force majeure on all oil and gas shipments through its Forties pipeline system last week after cracks were found.

“The force majeure is acting as a major prop for crude,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.

In Nigeria, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, whose members mainly work in the upstream oil industry, started industrial action on Monday after talks with government agencies ended in deadlock, potentially hitting the country’s production and exports.

“Oil prices are getting a bounce as the Nigerian oil union talks have hit an impasse and will begin strike action,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA.

In the United States, energy companies cut rigs drilling for new production for the first time in six weeks, to 747, in the week ended December 15, energy services firm Baker Hughes said.— Reuters

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