By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil settled up nearly 2 percent on Tuesday, hitting five-week highs for a second straight day as sources at OPEC spoke of Saudi Arabia’s desire for higher crude prices while Russia met the producer group to discuss the market.
The dollar’s tumble to an eight-week low also supported crude prices, as did the loss of more than 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) in Nigerian output to militant attacks and pipeline problems.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will probably revive talks on freezing oil output levels when it meets non-OPEC nations next month, OPEC sources told Reuters, citing Saudi Arabia’s wish for higher prices.
Russian and OPEC energy officials discussed oil markets at a meeting in Vienna, Russia’s Energy Ministry said. Another “energy dialogue” between Russia and OPEC has been scheduled there for October.
“While it is tempting to dismiss the OPEC chatter as a non-factor intended to talk up prices, we are also resigning to a momentum shift in which our technical indicators are flashing green lights in favor of further crude price rallies of at least a couple of dollars a barrel,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Chicago-based oil markets consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates.
Brent crude settled up 88 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $49.23 a barrel. It rose more after settlement, reaching $49.36, its highest since July 7.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 84 cents, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $46.58. It reached $46.73 after settlement, its highest since July 12.
Prices pared some gains in after market trade after data from the American Petroleum Institute showing an unexpected draw in U.S. crude stockpiles was overshadowed by surprise hefty builds in gasoline and distillates, indicating the glut in refined oil products was growing.
Official inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. (1430 GMT).
Technical analysts said oil could set 2016 highs in four to six weeks if Brent crosses $50 and U.S. crude $48.
But volatility also looks certain, with speculators ramping up on both bullish and bearish wagers.
“If we’ve learned anything about the oil market, it is that sentiment is extremely fragile,” said Michael Tran, director of energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets in New York.
Brent and WTI have both gained about 11 percent since Thursday after Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom would work with other producers to stabilize the market..
Many analysts were skeptical producers would cut a deal. An OPEC production freeze plan in April was scuttled by a Saudi Arabia that was keen then to protect market share.
“Optimism on my part is quite sparse,” Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, the oil minister for Nigeria, an OPEC member, wrote on his Twitter account.
(Additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in NEW YORK, Libby George in LONDON and Mark Tay and Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Editing by William Hardy and Marguerita Choy)