Oil price hits $71 per barrel for first time since 2014

Oil price hits $71 per barrel for first time since 2014

The oil price has risen above $71 earlier Thursday, for the first time since 2014, as US crude inventories fell for a tenth straight week. Ongoing output caps being exercised by OPEC and some non-OPEC countries also continues to add upward pressure on the value of the commodity.

The weaker level of the US dollar is also adding upward momentum.

The price of Brent crude hit $71.20 per barrel around mid-morning UK time. By 1430 BST, it was a little below that level, at $70.64 per barrel, a gain of 0.89%. The price of US WTI crude oil, meanwhile, was 1.27% higher at $66.44 per barrel.

US oil inventories keep falling

US oil inventories, as measured by the Energy Information Administration at the Oklahoma hub, fell by 1.1 million barrels in the week ended January 19. That was the tenth consecutive weekly decline in the level of oil held in the US.

That further fall put the total level of oil inventories in Cushing, Oklahoma, at 411.6 million barrels – the lowest since February 2015.

That drop came despite another increase in the production of oil to some 9.9 million barrels per day.

In the meantime, there are currently no signs that the agreement between OPEC and some non-OPEC members, to stick to the set output cap, could end early.

Indeed, earlier this week, OPEC member, Saudi Arabia, said "cooperation" between OPEC and its partners will continue beyond 2018.

The current output cap deal is set to end at the close of 2018.

Weaker US dollar

The US dollar has weakened against a basket of currencies following comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He told an audience at the DAVOS summit Wednesday, that a weaker dollar was “good for us”.

Oil is a dollar-denominated commodity and when the US dollar becomes weaker, its therefore less expensive for other currency-holders to buy it.

By Ilona Billington
Ilona is a freelance writer and editor with over 15 years experience reporting and writing about UK and European economics, real estate, financial markets and central banks.

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