Ben Perry, AFP
Last updated: 29 October, 2014

Oil prices rally and OPEC chief plays down recent slide

World oil prices rallied on Wednesday after a smaller-than-expected increase in US crude inventories and the OPEC chief’s comments that recent price falls are unjustifed.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December jumped 78 cents to close at $82.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in December settled at $87.12 a barrel, up $1.09 from Tuesday’s closing level.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) earlier in the day reported US crude inventories rose by 2.1 million barrels in the week ended October 24, less than analysts’ consensus estimate of 3.1 million barrels.

After a 7.1 million barrel gain the previous week, the data “showed that US crude inventory growth slowed,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities.

The DoE report meanwhile showed stronger-than-expected declines in inventories of gasoline and distillates, which include diesel and heating fuel.

That data “probably tells that we’ll get more refinery utilization” in the near future, Melek said.

Meanwhile, OPEC secretary-general Abdullah El-Badri said that market conditions did not justify sharp falls for crude futures since June and signaled that OPEC would maintain output through next year.

“We don’t see that much of a change in the fundamentals,” El-Badri said Wednesday, addressing the Oil & Money Conference in London.

“Demand is still growing, supply is also growing. The magnitude of the increase in the supply does not really reflect this 25 percent change” in the oil price.

OPEC will decide on whether to alter its output levels at a meeting in Vienna on November 27.

El-Badri also said that OPEC output in 2015 “won’t be far away” from this year.

The cartel has an official production ceiling of 30 million barrels per day, while it reported pumping 30.47 million barrels daily in September.