Oil at highest since 2015 on inventory drawdown, Iran unrest

Oil price jump

On Thursday, February WTI crude oil settled at $62.01, up $0.38 or +0.62% and March Brent crude oil ended the session at $68.07, up $0.23 or +0.34%.

Norbert Rucker, analyst for Julius Baer, said crude prices above $60 project an "overly rosy picture" and explained that "Oil production disruptions (in Iran) remain a very distant threat.Disruptions in the North Sea have been removed with the Forties Pipeline system having resumed full operations; USA oil production surpassed the 2015 highs in October and is set to climb to historic highs this year".

Freezing weather in the US spurred short-term demand, especially for heating oil.

Freezing weather in the United States has boosted demand for heating oil.

Futures jumped 0.6 percent in NY to the highest level since December 2014.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.95 a barrel at 0619 GMT.

Oil at highest since mid-2015 amid Iran tensions, tighter marketBrent crude futures LCOc1 were at $67.99 a barrel, 8 cents below their last settlement, but still not far off the $68.27-peak from the day before, also the highest since May 2015.

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The agency said US crude oil production increased in 2017 by more than 384,000 barrels per day (BPD), to 9.2 million barrels per day (MMBPD), based on data through September and estimates for the remainder of 2017.

"The protests don't put crude oil production at risk; from that perspective it is sort of a moot geopolitical factor", said Sarp Ozkan, analyst at Drillinginfo.com in Denver.

The main bullish factors were: the Opec+ output cut deal extension throughout 2018, a strong Opec compliance to the cut deal in December 2017, strong economic and financial data starting the year 2018, U.S. crude oil stocks continuous drawdown, a cold weather in North America boosting demand for heating oil, and socio-economic protests in Iran.

OPEC, supported by Russian Federation and other non-members, began to reduce output a year ago to remove a glut built up in the previous two years. The pact will run until the end of 2018.

OPEC's cuts are helping reduce global inventories.

Oil closed above $62 a barrel for the first time in more than three years after USA crude stockpiles shrank by the most since the summer driving season.

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