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Oil prices fall on prospect of Keystone resumption, weakening demand

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  • Keystone pipeline shut after oil spill into Kansas creek
  • Both oil benchmarks hit 2022 lows on Wednesday
  • China’s easing of COVID curbs to support demand
  • Economic and rate hike fears still weigh
  • U.S. crude stocks drop, fuel stocks rise

NEW YORK, Dec 8 (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Thursday on the prospect of a key Canada-to-U.S. crude pipeline that shut after a leak returning to service soon, putting a hefty amount crude back into the market at the same time that global economic slowdowns raised fuel demand fears.

Brent crude lost 67 cents, or 0.9%, to $76.50 a barrel by 11:29 a.m. EST (1629 GMT), while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude shed 17 cents, or 0.2%, to $71.84.

Canada’s TC Energy (TRP.TO) said it shut its giant 622,000 barrel-per-day Keystone crude oil pipeline, which is the primary line shipping heavy Canadian crude from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast, after a spill into a Kansas creek.

Oil prices rose after the company announced the closure of the line, which was shut at about 8 p.m. CT Wednesday (0200 GMT Thursday), but the market has since changed its sentiment.

“The concern about the Keystone situation is just not there anymore, and I think that will get back up and running in no time so it won’t be a material loss of crude from that pipeline hiccup,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. “We’re back looking at the demand outlook.”

The energy markets are weighed down by fears of an economic slowdown, weakening fuel demand and the prospect of more U.S. interest rate hikes. The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates by 50 basis points next week.

While U.S. crude inventories fell last week, gasoline and distillate inventories surged, adding to concern about easing demand.

Limiting losses was an announcement by China on Wednesday, which details the most sweeping changes to its resolute anti-COVID regime since the pandemic began, while at least 20 oil tankers faced delays in crossing to the Mediterranean from Russia’s Black Sea ports.

The 14-day relative strength index for Brent was below 30 on Thursday according to Eikon data, a level taken by technical analysts as indicating an asset is oversold and could be poised for a rebound.

Both Brent and U.S. crude hit 2022 lows on Wednesday, unwinding all the gains made after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated the worst global energy supply crisis in decades and sent oil close to its all-time high of $147.

Western officials were in talks with Turkish counterparts to resolve the tanker queues, a British Treasury official said on Wednesday, after the G7 and European Union rolled out new the restrictions on Dec. 5 aimed at Russian oil exports.

The queues suggest that “available supply from the Black Sea is already affected by the punitive measure,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

“In a healthy economic climate, such a development would be the equivalent of firing the starting gun in the race back to $100.”

Reporting by Laila Kearney; Additional reporting by Jeslyn Lerh in Singapore, Alex Lawler; Editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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