Oil prices tick up as Hurricane Michael nears Florida

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Oct. 9 (UPI) — Oil prices were up in mid-day trading Tuesday as Hurricane Michael barrels toward the Florida panhandle.

Brent prices were up nearly $1, trading at $84 per barrel, while WTI gained 61 cents to trade at nearly $75 a barrel. This comes as several large offshore oil drillers announced they would evacuate the rigs and shut in production ahead of Hurricane Michael, forecast to make landfall Wednesday.

At least 20 percent of Gulf Coast oil production was taken offline Tuesday.

BP, Equinor and ExxonMobil are some of the operators to evacuate their rigs. An Exxon spokeswoman said the impact to overall production will be “minimal.”

“Even though [the storm] is going to miss most productive assets, it will be a narrow miss,” Again Capital partner John Kilduff said. “We are seeing an abundance of caution from operators here.”

News that oil exports from Iran are already falling also put upward pressure on prices. Platts estimates crude oil volumes have fallen 11.5 percent, to 1.7 million barrels per day in September.

A new era of oil cooperation

Russia and Saudi Arabia could invest in key energy projects together as part of a new deal reached between the two countries.

“We have a number of good projects [under discussion], including between Saudi Aramco, Sibur and Novatek,” Alexander Novak, Russia’s energy minister, said. “Talks between the companies continue. As soon as they reach the final stage, and it is clear that they have agreed, it will be possible to visit Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia has already partnered with Gazprom Neft on a joint technology center in St. Petersburg. The Saudis also have oil swap deals and agreements to cooperate along the gas production chain. The Kingdom also wants to export liquid natural gas.

Long-term, Novak said Russia is considering taking an observer status at OPEC. Russia would not join as a full member because of the necessary obligations.

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