Russian Daily Oil Output Edges Up in 2017 to 30-Year High

Oil posts strongest year opening since 2014; Iran unrest pushes up crude

Although U.S. shale drillers are now exhibiting restraint, speculation is rising that they will put more rigs into operation next year as oil strengthens: Gene McGillian, a market research manager at Tradition Energy, pointed out that "With that partially offsetting production cuts by OPEC and Russian Federation, the market will have to get confirmation that global inventories will keep coming down".

The spread between USA crude and Brent hit the narrowest in almost two weeks.

Brent Crude is up 17% since the beginning of the year and WTI Crude Oil finished 12% higher.

Ongoing protests in Iran have led to a hardening of crude prices to levels last seen in mid-2015.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $60.42, the highest close since June 2015.

Russian oil production has continued to grow in 2017, with average daily output at a 30-year high of 10.98 million barrels per day, though the pace of growth slowed from 2016 because of the country's participation in an OPEC-led global supply pact.

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WTI prices were further boosted by an EIA report of a 4.6 million barrel weekly drop in US commercial crude storage levels.

The fall in United States crude oil inventories and U.S. crude oil production could be behind oil's gain.

A possible rise in U.S. oil production may pose a threat to higher oil prices.

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

"The resolution of the North Sea pipeline issue is having the expected result that the Brent-WTI spread is narrowing today", David Thompson, executive vice-president at Powerhouse, an energy-specialized commodities broker in Washington. Iranian oil industry and shipping sources said protests have had no impact on oil production or exports so far.

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