By Karolin Schaps–AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Oil prices stabilised on Monday after one of the most bearish weeks in months, propped up by OPEC comments signalling the possibility of further action to restore market balance in the long term.
Oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico started returning to service after Hurricane Nate had forced the shutdown of more than 90 percent of crude output in the area. The prospective restarts kept price gains in check.
“Oil is having trouble to find direction. Mixed signals keep investors busy changing their minds,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro.
“There is a good chance that we will continue to trade a bit sideways in the coming weeks up to the OPEC meeting.”
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is due to meet in Vienna on Nov. 30, when it will discuss its pact to reduce output in order to prop up the market.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said on Sunday that consultations were under way for an extension of the agreement beyond March 2018 and that more oil-producing nations may join the pact, possibly at the November meeting.
He also said OPEC members and other producers may have to take some “extraordinary measures” to ensure the market is in balance in the long term.
In a speech provided for the Reuters Global Commodities Summit this week, Barkindo said he saw clear evidence the oil market was rebalancing.
Global benchmark Brent crude <LCOc1> was flat at $55.62 a barrel at 1353 GMT. Earlier in the session it touched a three-week low of $55.06. It ended last week 3.3 percent lower, its biggest weekly loss since June 2017.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures <CLc1> were trading at $49.53, up 24 cents. They came close to a four-week low when they fell to $49.13 earlier in the session. WTI’s losses last week came to 4.6 percent.
In further signs that OPEC members are sticking to agreed cuts, Saudi Arabia said it had curtailed crude allocations for November by 560,000 barrels per day and Iraq’s oil minister said the country was fully committed to its OPEC production target.
Money managers raised their bullish bets on U.S. crude futures for the third week in a row, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission reported on Friday.
However, data published by InterContinental Exchange showed investors had slightly reduced their bets on rising Brent prices in the week ending Oct. 3.
(This version of the story corrects to say Brent weekly loss was biggest since June 2017, not June 2016 in paragraph 9.)
(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson)