Oil prices at 5-month high over conflict in Libya

April 9, 2019

Oil prices hit a five-month high on Monday, after an escalation of the civil war in Libya that threatened disruptions in oil production.

The benchmark North American crude contract, West Texas Intermediate, rose $1.28 to $64.36 US a barrel. Oil prices have been rising since the beginning of the year, but are not yet at the level they were last October, before a steep fall caused by fears of a global slowdown amid the U.S.-China trade war.

Brent, the main international contract, was up 70 cents at $71.03 US and Western Canada Select, the Canadian contract, stood at $56.21 US, up $1.28.

Traders focused on the disruption to Libyan oil supply, coupled with further U.S. restrictions in access to Venezuelan oil.

But they were overlooking the uptick in U.S. production, which saw 816 oil and gas rigs in operation last week, up from 797 a year ago.

The amount of U.S. oil in storage is also on the rise, as small producers respond to the rising prices by opening the taps.

The higher oil price was good for the Canadian dollar, pushing it nearly half a cent higher to 75.13 US.

However, the TSX did not share the optimism, falling with stocks around the world despite strength in the energy sector. The TSX was down 25 points to 16,371 in late afternoon.