North Sea Pipeline Flow Restored, Crude Prices Fall

Drilling rig
Drilling rig

The price of Brent crude has dropped this morning on news that the leaky Brent pipeline system has been repaired and is flowing again. The Abu Dhabi-based company that owns the system is targeting a flow of around 80,000 barrels a day for the system but did not give a date for when the flow would reach that level.

Brent crude has fallen by more than 1% this morning, to around $109.90 a barrel. The differential to WTI crude has narrowed to around $18 a barrel.

Traders are likely to bid up WTI today as the U.S. jobs figures have risen and the unemployment rate fell. There remains plenty of oil available and that should moderate the rise. Prices for both Brent and WTI are higher now than futures prices, a market condition known as backwardation. The differential between Brent and WTI is expected to fall below $15 a barrel and could get closer to $10 a barrel by December.

A lot depends on whether the global economy improves to match the rise in equity prices. Today's spike in nonfarm payrolls and lower unemployment rate are likely to boost prices in the short run, but it is questionable how permanent the change will be.

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