NEW YORK CITY – Crude oil futures hit five-week highs for a second straight day on Tuesday as sources at OPEC spoke of Saudi Arabia’s apparent desire for higher oil prices while Russia met the producer group to discuss the market.
According to a Reuters report, focus on production losses in Nigeria, where more than 700,000 b/d have been lost to militant attacks and pipeline problems, also supported crude prices.
OPEC will probably revive talks on freezing oil output levels when it meets non-OPEC nations next month, OPEC sources told Reuters. Top exporter Saudi Arabia appears to want higher prices although Iran, Iraq, and Russia present obstacles to a deal, the sources said.
Russian energy officials discussed with their OPEC counterparts the situation on global oil markets and other questions affecting their mutual relationship at a meeting in Vienna, the Russian Energy Ministry said in a statement.
Another regular meeting in the Austrian capital between Russia and OPEC, a so-called “energy dialogue,” has been scheduled for October, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in the statement.
Brent crude futures were up 63 cents, or 1.3%, at $48.98/bbl while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose by 68 cents, or 1.5%, to $46.42/bbl, after reaching $46.51, its highest since July 7.
Both crude benchmarks have gained about 11% over the past four sessions after Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom would work with others to stabilize the market.
But within OPEC, there are doubts about the group’s ability to achieve cooperation among its members or with producers on the outside. A much-touted OPEC production freeze plan was scuttled in April by Saudi Arabia, which was more keen then in protecting its market share.