US Crude Oil Price Hits $60 a Barrel, Highest Since Mid

AUSTRIA OPEC

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.82 a barrel at 0744 GMT, up 18 cents or 0.3 percent from their last settlement.

Earlier this year, oil prices slumped on concerns that rising crude production from Nigeria, Libya and elsewhere would undermine output cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russian Federation.

The data come on heels of a bullish U.S. oil inventory report that showed lower crude oil supplies as well as a dip in production, according to the weekly Energy Department data released Thursday.

Experts have been watching for signs of whether the OPEC agreement triggers increased drilling among U.S. shale producers. Brent crude futures settled up 28 cents at $66.72 a barrel.

WTI broke through $60 a barrel earlier this week, the first time since June 2015.

"Given the much stronger price response to supply disruptions in the wake of OPEC supply cuts, the market is poised to make further gains", said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda.

The price rose 58 cents to $60.42 a barrel in NY on Friday, propelled by Energy Department data showing USA crude inventories fell 4.6 million barrels last week.

Oil markets have tightened after a year of production cuts led by Middle East-dominated Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian Federation. Prices have rallied almost 50 percent since the middle of the year on robust demand and strong compliance with the production limits.

U.S. crude oil production hit 9,789,000 bpd (barrels per day) for the week ended December 15, 2017-the highest production level ever. Analysts expect production to top 10 million bpd in the next few weeks and to keep growing, limiting efforts by other producers to cap global supplies.

WTI received support from a report by the American Petroleum Institute (API) showing a 6 million barrel drop in crude oil inventories to 432.8 million.

USA light crude CLc1 was expected to average $55.78 a barrel next year, up from last month's forecast of $54.78. Inventories are down by nearly 20 percent from historic highs last March, and well below this time a year ago or in 2015. News of an unexpected decline in United States production supported Brent (BNO) and WTI oil (DWT)(UCO) prices on the same day.

Libya is to start repairing the pipeline near the Es Sider terminal this weekend, a Libyan oil official said, while the Forties pipeline was already pumping close to normal levels, according to trading sources.

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