Oil prices were higher on Jan. 13, with U.S. crude gaining for the seventh straight day, after industry data showed a bigger than expected drop in inventories and investors shrugged off rising new deaths and infections in the pandemic.
WTI crude futures in the U.S. was up 34 cents, or 0.6%, at $53.55/bbl by 0805 GMT after gaining nearly 2% on Jan. 12. Brent crude was up 36 cents, or 0.6%, at $56.94, having risen 1.7% in the previous session.
Both benchmarks are trading at the highest since February, before the coronavirus outbreak in China began spreading across the world and billions of people went into lockdown to prevent a pandemic that is now in a deadlier second wave.
Prices are shrugging off the latest developments in Europe and the U.S. where death tolls and new infections keep rising, with the focus on rollouts of vaccines, however patchy.
Even as China is grappling with its biggest coronavirus spike in months, comments from President Xi Jinping providing an upbeat assessment of the world's second-biggest economy and biggest oil importer supported prices.
"Crude oil prices also continued to rally ... on economic optimism in China after President's Xi comments and an inventory report from API showed that crude oil inventories fell more than expected," said Avtar Sandu, senior manager commodities at Phillip Futures.
Oil stocks in the U.S. dropped by 5.8 million barrels last week to around 484.5 million barrels, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed late on Jan. 12.
That was more than analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a fall of 2.3 million barrels.
Still, falling inventories and rising oil prices are likely to tempt U.S. drillers back into the fray, especially as Saudi Arabia and other major producers cut their output, effectively ceding market share to American producers, analysts said.
Saudi Arabia cut supplies of crude for February loading for at least three Asian buyers while meeting requirements of at least four others, several refinery and trade sources told Reuters on Jan. 13.
Around 160 km (100 miles) of the gas pipeline, which will supply Russian gas to Germany and other European countries, remains to be laid, the consortium behind the project said earlier on Dec. 23.
The filing follows a request to FERC by ConocoPhillips and Encana to reject the surcharge.
The agreements end a dispute over the $2.5 billion South Texas-Tuxpan natural gas pipeline that was completed in June but has not been in operation.