Global oil prices have rebounded from earlier losses as dealers grew sceptical Libyan rebels were close to a deal on lifting blockades that would boost the country’s oil production.
New York’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in May closed at $US100.29 a barrel on Thursday, up 67 cents from Wednesday. The US benchmark contract last closed above $US100 on March 31.
Brent North Sea crude for May climbed $US1.36 to settle at $US106.15 a barrel in London trade.
“Crude futures have reversed earlier losses, with Brent moving solidly to the upside on strong volume and WTI jogging along,” said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy.
“Brent has found strength after falling to its lowest level in five months, and despite reports that the Libyan government and rebels who have blocked oil exports are close to an agreement that would reopen some export facilities.”
The North African state of Libya, a member of oil-producing cartel OPEC, may be close to reaching a deal with rebels who have blockaded oil terminals since July, according to reports.
Rebels demanding autonomy for eastern Libya said on Thursday they had made progress in talks with the central government on reopening key oil ports that they had closed to exports last July.
A rebel spokesman said a first port might reopen as early as next week, raising hopes of an end to the eight-month-old blockade which has slashed Libyan oil exports from 1.5 million barrels a day to just 250,000 in a massive blow to the economy.
But Bob Yawger of Mizuho Securities said the Libya deal was “a bit uncertain at best. We’ve seen that before with deals close and then it didn’t happen.”
Tim Evans of Citi Futures said that oil prices rose as traders bet that the Libyan government would reject the proposed agreement.
WTI prices also benefited from anticipation of Friday’s release of March US jobs data, a key indicator of economic strength in the world’s biggest oil-consuming nation.
“The US oil contract has found some support. This could be due to speculators trimming some of their bearish positions ahead of the non-farm payrolls tomorrow,” said Forex广西桑拿, analyst Fawad Razaqzada.