SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil rose on Monday, with Brent touching the highest in five months, underpinned by a 30% cut in Abu Dhabi crude supplies and encouraging Chinese data even as global demand struggles to return to pre-COVID levels in a well supplied market.
Brent crude futures for November LCOc1 advanced to $46.38 a barrel earlier, the highest since March, and was fetching $46.27 by 0656 GMT, up 46 cents, or 1%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 was at $43.25 a barrel, up 28 cents, or 0.7%.
Brent is set to close out August with a fifth successive monthly price rise while WTI is on track for a fourth monthly gain, having hit a five-month high of $43.78 a barrel on Aug. 26 when Hurricane Laura struck.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company told its customers on Monday that it will reduce October supplies by 30%, up from a 5% cut in September, as directed by the United Arab Emirates government to meet its commitment on the recent OPEC+ agreement.
“With demand gradually recovering, this will allow the market to better absorb the inventory glut from earlier this year,” OCBC’s economist Howie Lee said.
Energy companies continued efforts to restore operations at U.S. Gulf Coast offshore platforms and refineries shut before the storm.
A weak U.S. dollar and a survey on Monday showing surprisingly strength in China’s services sector supported oil prices even though fuel demand has struggled to recover amid the coronavirus pandemic and supplies remain ample, analysts say, cautioning of hurdles for crude going forward.
“Oil is likely to slowly grind higher in modest steps, not explode out of the wellhead higher,” OANDA’s Asia-Pacific analyst Jeffrey Halley said, adding that abundant near-term supplies and the fragility of the global recovery tempered price gains.
China’s crude imports in September are set to fall for the first time in five months as record volumes of crude are stored in and outside of the world’s largest importer, data from Refinitiv and Vortexa showed.
Reflecting concerns about rising supplies and sluggish global economic recovery, hedge funds and money managers cut bullish wagers on U.S. crude to the lowest level in nearly four months, data showed on Friday.
Higher oil and gas prices are also encouraging U.S. producers to resume drilling as the country’s oil and gas rig count rose by three to 254 in August, according to data from energy services firm Baker Hughes Co.
Separately, Saudi Aramco discovered two new oil and gas fields in the northern regions, the kingdom’s energy minister said on Sunday, state news agency SPA reported.