Crude oil prices rose Wednesday, with U.S. crude topping $60 a barrel for the first time in roughly four months, after government data showed American crude oil inventories plunged.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled 80 cents higher, at $59.83 per barrel, after earlier topping $60/Bbl — its highest level since Nov. 12. The more heavily traded WTI contract for May delivery peaked at $60.28/Bbl.
Brent crude futures rose 89 cents, or 1.3%, at $68.50/Bbl. The international benchmark during the trading session rose as high as $68.57/Bbl, setting a new high dating back to Nov. 13.
WTI has jumped 32% this year after losing nearly half its value in the final months of 2018. Brent is up more than 27% year-to-date, boosted by production cuts from Opec+ and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.
Crude stockpiles dropped by 9.6 million barrels in the week ended March 15, the Energy Information Administration reported. That compared with an expected buildup of 309,000 barrels, according to a Reuters survey of analysts. (See story elsewhere in this issue.)
Crude oil futures have been supported this week by ongoing supply cuts by Opec+, a group of producer nations including most of Opec, along with a number of non-Opec countries led by Russia.
On Monday, the group cancled a meeting planned for April because it expects the oil market to remain oversupplied through the first half of the year. The group’s goal is to withhold 1.2 million barrels per day (Mmbpd) from the market.
Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih has said he’s leaning towards continuing the deal into the second half of the year.
Surging U.S. crude production and exports are helping hold down prices. The nation’s output is holding steady around an all-time high 12.1 Mmbpd, while weekly exports hit nearly 3.4 Mmbpd, just below a recent record, EIA said.