Oil prices rise toward $41 on US Gulf hurricane shutdowns, outlook weak

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Oil rose on Tuesday toward $41 a barrel as oil companies shut down some US Gulf of Mexico oil output due to a hurricane, although surging coronavirus infections and rising Libyan supply limited gains.

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Companies including BP, Chevron and Equinor ASA evacuated rigs, and so far producers have shut 16 percent, or 293,656 barrels per day (bpd) of oil output due to Hurricane Zeta.

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Brent crude was up 20 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $40.66 per barrel by 1344 GMT. US oil gained 18 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $38.74. Both contracts fell more than 3 percent on Monday.

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“Whilst Hurricane Zeta could provide a price relief under the current circumstances, it will be very brief,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM. “The mood is, indeed, souring.”

Oil has declined because of rising coronavirus infections globally and a lack of progress on agreeing a US coronavirus relief package. Still, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hopeful a deal can be reached before the November 3 election.

“The rising number of infections, lockdowns and travel restrictions is a serious threat,” said Paola Rodriguez-Masiu of Rystad Energy. “The situation at the moment looks more pessimistic than not.”

Libyan production is expected to reach 1 million bpd in coming weeks, the country’s national oil company said on Friday, complicating efforts by other OPEC members and allies to restrict output.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, are planning to increase production by 2 million bpd from January after record output cuts this year.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking last on Thursday, did not rule out extending the cuts for longer.

The latest US inventory figures due later on Tuesday and on Wednesday are expected to show rising supplies. Analysts expect crude stocks to rise by about 1.1 million barrels.

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