Oil prices close to 13-month highs, supported by Texas cold snap

LONDON: prices hovered near 13-month highs on Tuesday, supported by a U.S. cold snap that shut wells in the oil-producing state of Texas, though gains were capped by a Norwegian wage deal that averted supply disruptions in Europe.

The global rollout of coronavirus vaccinations, fuelling expectations of a recovery in the global economy and oil demand, has also kept prices buoyant.

Keenly watched U.S. oil inventory data from the API industry association and Energy Information Administration (EIA) will be released this week on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, each delayed by a day after U.S. markets were closed for a public holiday on Monday.

Benchmark Brent crude slipped 37 cents, or 0.5%, to $62.93 a barrel by 1434 GMT but remained 13-month peak reached in the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 45 cents, or 0.8%, to $59.92 after touching their highest since early January last year.

Swiss bank UBS increased its Brent price forecast, saying it expects the benchmark to reach $68 a barrel in the second half of the year and $70 by March 2022, with WTI trading at a $3 discount.

Cold weather in the United States halted operations at Texas oil wells and refineries on Monday and forced restrictions on natural gas and crude pipeline operators.

Texas produces about 4.6 million barrels per day of oil and is home to 31 refineries, the most of any U.S. state and including some of the country’s largest, EIA data shows.

Middle East supply concerns also rose after the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi group in Yemen said on Monday that it had destroyed an explosive-laden drone fired by the Houthis at the kingdom, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

But in a move that helped to cap prices, Norway’s oil industry employers struck a wage deal with the Safe labour union on Tuesday, preventing a strike at the Mongstad crude terminal, which could have forced major offshore oil and gas fields to shut.

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