Global demand to help oil prices despite U.S. glut-senior Gulf OPEC delegate

Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:28am EDT
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By Rania El Gamal

RIYADH (Reuters) - Stronger-than-expected global oil demand should help support crude prices at around $55-$60 a barrel in the next two months despite some signs of a growing glut in the United States,‎ a senior Gulf OPEC delegate told Reuters on Tuesday.

The comments appear to counter some market forecasts that the U.S. oil glut may push prices to as low as $20-$30 and are a sign that the core Gulf OPEC members remain confident about their strategy of defending market share.

"Global demand is definitely growing much stronger than expected. In December, January, and especially February ‎it was beyond what forecasts anticipated," the delegate said.

Low oil prices may have encouraged demand to pick up particularly in the United States but also in Asia, the Gulf delegate, who declined to be identified, added.

Oil prices are expected to fluctuate around $55-$60 a barrel through April, when they may come under pressure because of seasonal refinery maintenance and rising stocks in the United States, the Gulf OPEC delegate said.

International benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was trading above $55 on Tuesday.

Underlining brimming U.S. supplies, crude stocks rose nearly three times as much as expected, as storage at the Cushing, Oklahoma oil hub reached a new record, a government report showed last week.

"There are still uncertainties, prices will stay fluctuating around 55-60 dollars," the delegate said.   Continued...

A pumpjack brings oil to the surface  in the Monterey Shale, California, April 29, 2013.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson