Oil Nudges Higher Ahead of OPEC Meeting

By Sarah McFarlane Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil prices recovered slightly on Thursday having fallen steadily this week on uncertainty over the outcome of a meeting between oil producers where further production cuts will be discussed.

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Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.4% to $62.79 a barrel on London's ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.4% at $57.53 a barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major oil producers including Russia will meet later on Thursday to discuss whether their deal to curb output which expires in March should be extended and if so for how long.

Saudi Arabia, the quasi-leader of OPEC, is pushing for a nine-month extension, while Russia, the top crude producer, wants more flexibility and shorter time frames.

"Russia faces a few more considerations than most of the OPEC countries, in particular the Russian companies are looking at the timing," said Richard Mallinson, an analyst at consultancy Energy Aspects.

Russian companies delayed expansion projects that were due to start up this year due to the cuts and a nine-month extension could incur costs from further delays, Mr. Mallinson said.

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Still, Energy Aspects expects a nine-month extension is the most likely outcome of the meeting.

Analysts said they didn't anticipate a big price response as the extension is already factored into the market.

"There's more downside than upside price risk related to this meeting, they can't afford to disappoint now because everyone's already taken the bet that they will do a nine-month extension," said Torbjorn Kjus, chief oil economist at Norwegian bank DNB Group.

The focus now will be on what the group's exit strategy is when the cuts expire, Mr. Kjus added.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock--the benchmark gasoline contract--rose 0.3% to $1.74 a gallon. ICE gasoil changed hands at $559.00 a metric ton, down $2.25 from the previous settlement.

Write to Sarah McFarlane at sarah.mcfarlane@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 30, 2017 04:45 ET (09:45 GMT)