Brent crude hits $52 as US inventories shrink

Oil has almost doubled from wintertime lows on news of unplanned supply interruptions

International Brent crude climbed as much as 2.1 per cent to touch $52.54, its highest price since last October. Photograph: Getty

International Brent crude climbed as much as 2.1 per cent to touch $52.54, its highest price since last October. Photograph: Getty

 

Oil prices set fresh highs for 2016, rising to above $52 on Wednesday as traders watched bloated inventories fall.

International Brent crude climbed as much as 2.1 per cent to touch $52.54, its highest price since last October. Meanwhile, the US oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, climbed nearly 2 per cent to $51.34 a barrel, its highest intraday price since last July.

Oil has almost doubled from wintertime lows on news of unplanned supply interruptions, a slow decline in output from US shale formations, and robust consumption from drivers enjoying cheap prices at the pumps.

On Wednesday, the US government reported that domestic crude oil stocks shrank by 3.2 million barrels last week, a third straight drop and half a million barrels more than analysts had forecast. The decline came as refiners processed more oil and importers delivered less.

But rise in US petroleum stocks had matched crude’s decrease amid rises in petrol, diesel, jet fuel and other oils, the Energy Information Administration said. At 1.4 billion barrels, petrol stocks remain 25 per cent higher than two years ago.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016