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As output falls to 9.75 mbpd, US WTI crude jumps back above $60 per barrel

US output is still up by almost 16% since mid-2016

Reuters  |  Singapore | London 

oil, oil prices
FILE PHOTO: An oil rig off the coast of Johor, Malaysia | Photo: Reuters

hit their highest since mid-2015 on the final trading day of the year as an unexpected fall in American output and a fall in commercial stoked buying.

In markets, also rose, supported by ongoing supply cuts by top producers and as well as strong demand from China.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $60.07 a barrel at 1150 GMT, up 23 cents or 0.4 per cent from their last close, after hitting a June 2015 high of $60.32.

Brent crude futures - the benchmark - were also up, rising 23 cents to $66.39 a barrel.

Brent broke through $67 earlier this week for the first time since May 2015.

Since the start of the year, Brent and WTI have risen by 17 and 12 per cent, respectively, although the price rises from mid-2017 are much stronger, at nearly 50 per cent.

Friday's WTI price rises were driven by a surprise drop in US oil production, which last week dipped to 9.754 million barrels per day (bpd), down from 9.789 million bpd the previous week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released late on Thursday.

US output is still up by almost 16 per cent since mid-2016, but most analysts had expected production to break through 10 million bpd by the end of this year - a level only surpassed by top exporter Saudi Arabia and top producer

were further boosted by a fall in US commercial crude storage levels, which dropped by 4.6 million barrels in the week to Dec. 22 to 431.9 million barrels, according to the EIA.

Inventories are now down by almost 20 per cent from their historic highs last March, and well below this time last year or in 2015.

A Year of cuts In markets, China has issued crude oil import quotas totalling 121.32 million tonnes for 44 companies in its first batch of allowances for 2018.

Based on total expected quotas, China's imports - which at around 8.5 million bpd are already the world's biggest - are expected to hit another record in 2018 as new refining capacity is brought online and Beijing allows more independent refiners to import crude.

On the supply side, Brent prices have been supported by a year of production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and The cuts started last January and are scheduled to cover all of 2018.

Pipeline outages in Libya and the North Sea have also supported oil prices, although both disruptions are expected to be resolved by early January.

The Forties pipeline was already pumping close to normal levels, trading sources said on Friday.

First Published: Fri, December 29 2017. 19:57 IST