Oil Gains on Forecast of Cold Weather

By Neanda SalvaterraFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Oil prices edged up Friday, supported by a U.S. cold spell, which is expected to spur consumption of heating fuels and pose challenges for crude production.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.47% to $66.47 a barrel on London's ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.48% at $60.15 a barrel.

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The National Weather Service said Friday it expects heavy snowfall as "a surge of arctic air" may impact parts of the U.S., including the Northeast over the weekend.

Analysts expect that the cold snap will boost the consumption of heating oils and pose challenges for refineries that may have difficulties operating in extreme temperatures.

"Move over Polar Vortex, here comes Articgeddon," said Olivier Jakob, managing director of Petromatrix, an oil research firm in Switzerland. "U.S. traders are going on a long holiday weekend with a focus on the deep freeze that is taking control of most of the U.S. This is providing support to the oil complex."

Both grades have approached their highest levels since 2015 amid thin trading over the Christmas holiday and ahead of New Year.

Crude futures were buoyed earlier in the week by myriad factors including an explosion on a pipeline that feeds Libya's largest oil port. The impact of the incident has been somewhat more muted than initially anticipated.

Meanwhile, repairs on the Forties Pipeline System in the North Sea, which stopped the flow of 450,000 barrels a day, have also been progressing. The pipeline operator Ineos said Thursday that "all restrictions on the flow of oil and gas from platforms feeding into the pipeline system have been fully lifted."

The company expects that the Forties should be fully operational early in the New Year.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock--the benchmark gasoline contract--rose 0.07% to $1.80 a gallon. ICE gas oil changed hands at $599.50 a metric ton, up $2.50 from the previous settlement.

Write to Neanda Salvaterra at neanda.salvaterra@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 29, 2017 07:21 ET (12:21 GMT)