Brent crude, used to price two-
thirds of the world’s oil supply, rose above $100 a barrel for the first time
since 2008 on growing confidence in its usefulness for tracking the global
recovery in fuel demand.
North Sea Brent surged to a record
premium of more than $11 a barrel over U.S. crude futures on 27 January as
swelling U.S. inventories weakened oil futures in New York and sent investors
toward the European benchmark.
Production stoppages off the coast
of Norway have added to Brent’s cost.
OPEC said earlier this week it
considers prices to be in a “comfortable zone.”
“Brent has been the star of the
energy market this month, viewed as the ultimate oil benchmark because it best
reflects global supply and demand,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB
Capital in London. “The mood among oil investors is upbeat, while colder
weather and tightness in North Sea supplies added to positive sentiment.”
Worldwide oil consumption will
increase by 1.4 million barrels a day, or 1.6 percent, this year to a record
89.1 million a day, driven by consumption in China and other emerging
economies, according to the International Energy Agency.
The U.S., the largest
consumer of crude, grew at a faster pace in the fourth quarter, driven by the
biggest gain in consumer spending in four years.