USA crude ends year above $60 on strong global oil demand
30 December, 2017, 03:55 | Author: Kathy Ellis
Expectations of robust oil demand growth and high OPEC and allies' commitment to the production cuts have prompted analysts to raise again their forecast for oil prices in 2018, and they now see WTI averaging $55.78 per barrel next year. The spread between the benchmarks widened throughout the year, as Brent responded to the drawdown in supply from major world producers while USA output continued to grow.
WTI crude is now trading at $59.83/bbl, just below the $60.01/bbl reached in intraday trading earlier this week. Brent crude futures were unchanged at $66.44 a barrel.
WTI prices were supported by data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration late on Thursday showing domestic oil production C-OUT-T-EIA declined last week to 9.75 million barrels per day (bpd) from 9.79 million bpd the previous week. Inventories excluding the nation's strategic reserve have declined more than 11 per cent in the past year. Brent has surpassed 2015 levels and is trading around $64.75 per barrel level, while WTI is strongly holding $58 per barrel level in the global market. A monthly Reuters poll showed analysts expect Brent crude to stay close to $60 in 2018.
Traders put the higher prices down to China releasing strong import quotas for 2018, which could lead to another record for purchases by the world's biggest importer.
Monthly EIA data released on Friday showed US crude production hit a 46-year high in October, but the country's oil exports and demand also rose.
Pipeline outages in Libya and the North Sea have also been supporting oil prices. Libyan oil supplies were disrupted by an attack on a pipeline this week and flows towards the port of Es Sider were cut by about 70,000 bpd on Thursday.
Both pipelines are expected to return to normal operations by early January.
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