Oil prices try for fresh 3-year highs

Oil prices up following crude inventories' fall

Oil prices try for fresh 3-year highs

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures ended Friday's session down 57 cents, or almost 1%, at $61.44 a barrel, falling from the $62.21 high reached the previous day, and last seen in May 2015.

Brent crude futures were at US$67.78 a barrel, 16 cents USA above their last close.

"You're so long this market at this point, you could certainly get more interest at these levels", said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

A simmering power struggle in Iran has raised anxieties over the stability of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' (Opec) third-largest crude producer.

Oil prices closed at fresh three-year highs Tuesday, as geopolitical risk and confidence in global growth continued to buoy markets. USA commercial crude inventories fell by 7.4 million barrels (MMBbl) in the week ended December 29, to 424.46 MMBbl, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Standard Chartered expects oil demand growth to outpace supply growth from non-OPEC countries in both 2018 and 2019, continuing to be the main supporter of prices, analysts wrote Tuesday.

There is no sign yet that OPEC is prepared to relax its supply restraint.

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook, released Tuesday, the agency said it expects US production to break above 11 million barrels per day in November 2019.

The report also noted that the North Sea Brent barrel stands at $64 per barrel, which is the highest it has been since November 2014, the start of the oil price crisis.

However, some analysts believe market participants are getting to optimistic, especially given expectations for an increase in USA shale production. However, Saudi Arabia, OPEC's top producer, wants to see crude above $60 to boost the valuation of its national oil company Aramco before an initial public offering of shares this year and to reduce the gap in its state budget, Saudi sources have said.

US crude production was forecast to climb by 970,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 and rise another 580,000 bpd to 10.85 million bpd in 2019, the EIA said in a monthly report that provided the agency's first outlook for next year.

"We are in winter, a season in which prices go up as demand for petroleum products goes up", Iranian oil minister added.

Latest News