Crude Oil Rises

Crude oil rose on speculation OPEC cut its output in January to drain surplus global inventories and bolster prices., Bloomberg 2/3/2009 5:29:36 AM

OPEC production averaged 28.565 million barrels a day last month, down 3.5 percent from December, according to a Bloomberg News survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. The U.A.E and Qatar plan to further reduce their crude oil shipments in March, according to refiners.

Crude oil for March delivery gained as much as 79 cents, or 2 percent, to $40.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $40.22 a barrel at 11:50 a.m. London time.

Prices are down 9.1 percent this year and are 55 percent lower than a year earlier.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, responsible for more than 40 percent of global oil supply, agreed on Dec. 17 in Oran, Algeria, to lower supply as oil prices headed for their first annual decline since 2001. Producers with output quotas, all members except Iraq, pumped 26.2 million barrels a day, 1.355 million more than their target of 24.845 million barrels a day.

Brent crude oil for March settlement rose as much as $1.10, or 2.5 percent, to $44.92 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract traded at $44.19 a barrel at 11:50 a.m. local time.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer and the world’s top oil exporter, reduced output by 375,000 barrels a day last month to an average 8.025 million barrels a day, the lowest since December 2002. Production was 26,000 barrels a day fewer than its target of 8.051 million barrels a day, the survey showed.

The U.A.E. and Qatar plan to reduce their crude oil shipments to Asia in March in line with OPEC cuts, said refiners who received notices from suppliers.

State-owned Qatar Petroleum will slash supplies of its Marine grade sold under long-term contracts by 15 percent, following a 6 percent cut in February, said the refinery officials in Singapore, China, Japan and South Korea, who asked not to be named citing confidentiality agreements.

Crude-oil stockpiles increased 2.75 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 23 from 338.9 million the week before, according to the median of analyst estimates before an Energy Department report tomorrow. It would be the 17th gain in 19 weeks.

Gasoline stockpiles rose 1 million barrels from 219.9 million, according to the survey. Supplies of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, probably fell 1.4 million barrels from 144 million.

The Energy Department is scheduled to release its weekly report on Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. in Washington.