Oil prices rise sharply

Oil prices rose on news Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela plan to meet in March. Venezuelan Oil and Mining Minister Eulogio del Pino said on Thursday that Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela plan to meet in mid-March to discuss the freeze of the oil production at January levels. He called on all OPEC members to take part in the meeting.

The first decline of U.S. gasoline inventories since November, which decreased by 2.2 million barrels last week, continued to support.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) data on Wednesday, U.S. crude inventories rose by 3.5 million barrels to 507.6 million in the week to February 19. Analysts had expected U.S. crude oil inventories to rise by 3.17 million barrels.

Market participants are also awaiting the release of the number of active U.S. rigs later in the day. The oil driller Baker Hughes reported on last Friday that the number of active U.S. rigs by 26 rigs to 413 last week. It was the lowest level since December 2009.

WTI crude oil for April delivery increased to $33.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude oil for April rose to $35.97 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

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