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Oil edges up as U.S. gulf production halts

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Oil prices on Monday gained as a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico forced companies to evacuate rigs and halt production, but the rise was kept in check by wider concerns about excess supply and falling fuel demand.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up 18 cents, or 0.5%, at $37.51 a barrel by around 0514 GMT. Brent crude LCOc1 gained 9 cents, or 0.2%, to $39.92 a barrel.

Both contracts ended last week lower, falling for a second week in a row.

Tropical Storm Sally gained in strength in the Gulf of Mexico west of Florida on Sunday and was poised to become a category 2 hurricane. The storm is disrupting oil production for the second time in less than a month after hurricane Laura swept through the region.

The U.S. is the world’s biggest oil consumer and producer. Typically oil gains when production is shut, but with the coronavirus pandemic getting worse demand concerns are to the fore, while global supplies continue to rise.

In Libya, commander Khalifa Haftar committed to ending a months-long blockade of oil facilities, a move that would add more supplies to the market, although it was unclear if oil fields and ports would begin operations.

Senior market analyst at OANDA Jeffrey Halley said: “The announcement that the blockade of Libyan oil export terminals may be about to end will add to the woes of OPEC+’s meeting this week,”.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, a grouping known as OPEC+, meets on Sept. 17 to discuss compliance with deep cuts in production, although analysts don’t expect further reductions to be made.

On Sunday, BP Plc BP.L and Equinor ASA EQNR.OL evacuated staff from some offshore platforms after similar moves by Chevron Corp CVX.N and Murphy Oil Corp MUR.N the day before.

Also supporting prices, drillers cut the number of oil and gas rigs for the first time in four weeks last week.

Source Reuters
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