Oil Futures Settle Sharply Higher

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Crude oil prices rose sharply on Friday amid concerns it might take several weeks to dislodge the giant container ship that is blocking the Suez Canal, a critical commodity chokepoint that connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended up $2.41 or about 4.1% at $60.97 a barrel. WTI futures shed about 0.8% in the week.

Brent crude futures were up $2.65 or 4.28% at $64.60 a barrel a little while ago.

According to reports, efforts are on to free the giant cargo ship blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal which is estimated to be holding up more than $9bn (?6.5bn) worth of goods each day.

Officials stopped all ships entering the canal on Thursday, and a salvage company said the vessel may take weeks to free.

Hopes that the OPEC and its allies might continue with lower production contributed as well to the rise in oil prices.

However, there are concerns about outlook for energy demand due to extension of coronavirus lockdowns in several countries in Europe. The European Commission has warned that the European Union is at the start of a third wave of the pandemic.

France has extended partial lockdowns in more areas and President Macro has warned that the next few weeks will be tough.

A report from Baker Hughes showed the number of oil and gas rigs in the United States increased by 6 this week, after an increase of 9 last week. The total number of active oil and gas rigs in the U.S. is now at 417, which is 311 fewer than this time last year.

The oil rig count has increased by nearly 30 rigs over the last two months.

The oil rig count increased by 6 this week to 324, and the number of gas rigs stayed the same at 92. The number of miscellaneous rigs also remained unchanged at 1.


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