Crude oil settles above $60 for first time since June 2015

Brent weekly chart

Oil prices posted solid gains on Friday, as analysts said a decline in US production and commercial crude inventories lifted sentiment. Brent crude futures - the worldwide benchmark for oil prices - were also up, rising 33 cents or 0.5 percent to $66.49 a barrel. Most of the increase was in the Gulf of Mexico, where production was 290,000 barrels a day higher than in October.

WTI prices were supported by data from the EIA late yesterday showing US oil production fell last week to 9.75M bbl/day from 9.79M bbl/day the previous week. In the last two months, West Texas Intermediate crude prices reached their highest level in more than two years, allowing producers to hedge future output at more than $50 a barrel. USA stockpiles declined for the sixth consecutive week last week, according to EIA data.

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USA oil prices closed above $60 a barrel on the final trading day of the year, the first time since mid-2015, as the commodity ended 2017 with a 12 percent gain spurred by strong demand and declining global inventories.

In November, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with a group of other major producers outside the cartel including Russian Federation, agreed to extend a deal to cap production through 2018.

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Global events also swung the market up and down along the way, such as Hurricane Harvey, supply disruptions in Libya and Kurdistan, a pipeline shutdown in the North Sea, and last but not least, a brutal cold snap in the final week of the year that drove up demand for heating oil, fuel oil and natural gas.

WTI traded at an average price of about $52 this year. While Canada remains the largest destination for US crude oil exports, Canada's share of total USA crude oil exports has declined, dropping from 92% in 2015 (427,000 b/d) to 58% in 2016 (301,000 b/d). That beat the 3.75 million average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

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Concerns of oversupply in the oil market have dragged prices down, Kloza noted, and paired with "a lot of weak charts and a lot of technical selling really brought the market back down to earth". "That's one of the key risks to our business".

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