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Oil Prices Bear 13-month Highs, Supported by Texas Cold Snap

- Shadia Nasralla, Reuters

Oil prices hovered near 13-month highs on Feb. 16, supported by a cold snap that shut wells in the biggest U.S. producing state Texas, although gains were capped by a wage deal in Norway that averted supply disruptions in Europe.

The global rollout of coronavirus vaccinations, fueling expectations of a recovery in the global economy and oil demand, has also kept prices buoyant.

Keenly watched U.S. oil inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute industry association and Energy Information Administration (EIA) will be released this week on Feb. 17 and Feb. 18, respectively, each delayed by a day after U.S. markets were closed on Feb. 15.

Benchmark Brent crude slipped 16 cents, or 0.2%, to $63.14 per barrel by 10:56 GMT, but it remained to its highest since January 2020 that was reached the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 33 cents, or 0.6%, to $59.80 per barrel by 10:56 GMT, after touching their highest since early January 2020.

Cold weather in the United States halted operations at Texas oil wells and refineries on Feb. 15 and forced restrictions on natural gas and crude pipeline operators.

Texas produces about 4.6 MMbbl/d of oil and is home to 31 refineries, the most of any U.S. state and including some of the country's largest, according to EIA data.

Middle East supply concerns also rose after the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi group in Yemen said on Feb. 15 it had destroyed an explosive-laden drone fired by the Houthis at the kingdom, the world's biggest oil exporter.

But in a move that helped cap prices, Norway's oil industry employers struck a wage bargain with the Safe labor union on Feb. 16, preventing a strike at the Mongstad crude terminal that could have forced major offshore oil and gas fields to shut.

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