Economy

Oil Price Rises Above $68, Highest Since 2015

Oil Price Rises Above $68, Highest Since 2015

Having reached the levels of early December 2014 of about roughly $65 for the Brent and $60 for the WTI, benchmark oil futures have now the ambition to break permanently those levels which are now clearly in reach.

Freezing weather in the USA spurred short-term demand, especially for heating oil.

US oil stocks fell more than expected, continuing a steady drawdown of supplies in the world's largest oil consumer, though stocks of distillates and gasoline rose on heavy refining activity driven in part by year-end adjustments.

Monthly EIA data released on Friday showed USA crude production hit a 46-year high in October, but the country's oil exports and demand also rose. USA crude settled up 38 cents at $62.01, after earlier hitting $62.21, its highest since May 2015.

Balancing the trend towards a tighter market is higher production in the United States, where the OPEC-led effort to push prices up is spurring more shale oil output.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude stocks fell by 7.4 million barrels in the last week of 2017, exceeding expectations, as refiners boosted activity to their highest rate since 2005.

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USA crude inventories fell to 424.5 million barrels last week, while distillate supplies climbed by about 8.9 million barrels, the most since December 2016, the EIA said.

Traders said political tensions in Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), had pushed prices higher.

It said the OPEC agreement to curtail crude oil production in 2017 and subsequent extension of that agreement through 2018 tightened crude oil supplies, which put upward pressure on crude oil prices.

However, while media is portraying the survey as evidence that OPEC members are strongly committed to reducing its output, a good numerous declines can be attributed to unforeseen problems and not any willingness to abide by the cartel's rules, case in point: Libya, whose output in December slipped by 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to a pipeline outage. The pact will run until the end of 2018.

Lower domestic crude oil prices made USA crude oil more competitive in global markets and supported record US crude oil exports.


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