Inventories Drop More than Expected, Oil Prices Soar

Oil prices rose on Wednesday after a reported sharp drop in U.S. crude stocks, and after Iraq -- member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) -- said the producer group would discuss deepening output cuts amid ongoing demand concerns.

Brent crude gained 1% to $63.05 U.S. a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 0.8% to $57.86 U.S. a barrel.

Petroleum prices have jetted more than 7% this month, supported by declines in global inventories and signs of an easing in trade tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and energy consumers.

Prices rose this week after Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister, said oil policy would not change and said an OPEC deal with Russia and other producers to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) would be maintained.

Iraq's oil minister said the OPEC would discuss whether to deepen cuts, when ministers meet on Thursday. He said the group had discussed cuts of 1.6 million to 1.8 million bpd, when considering output curbs last year.

OPEC cut its forecast on Wednesday for growth in world oil demand in 2020 by 60,000 bpd to 1.08 million bpd, due to an economic slowdown. It indicated the market would be in surplus.

The organization has pointed to rising global production next year, particularly in U.S. shale fields, while data from the American Petroleum Institute showed U.S. crude stocks fell last week by 7.2 million barrels, more than twice the amount analysts had forecast.