Crude Prices Hit Three-Year Highs On Supply Concerns

Oil Prices Hit Highest Level in Three Years on Iran Tensions

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and worldwide benchmark Brent crude oil rose to their highest levels since early 2015 on Thursday, on concern that the escalation of unrest in Iran will eventually have an effect on supply and another decline in U.S. inventories as refining activity hit a 12-year high.

Oil held gains near the highest close in more than three years as USA crude stockpiles shrank for a seventh week, the longest run of declines since August, offsetting a rebound in production.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery gained $1.26, or 2.1%, to $61.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settle value since December 2014.

Six days of unrest in OPEC's third-largest producer, Iran, have generated a geopolitical risk premium to oil prices, although the country's production and exports have not been affected by the protests.

Cold weather across much of the country was expected to keep demand high, as heating oil prices were just off highs not seen since early 2015.

In a meeting with oil companies last Wednesday, the DOE reportedly struggled in determining which inventories it shall really be policing.

Jaipuriyar said that if the United States were to decertify the nuclear deal that would have implications for Iranian oil supplies to other parts of the world.

Some analysts were asking yesterday whether the bull market had run its course. On Tuesday, crude futures reached $67.29, the May 2015 high.

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My relation with Kim Jong-un is very good
Kim has responded by calling the USA president a "mentally deranged United States dotard". North Korea past year increased the pace of its missile programme.

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The oil market made a modest recovery previous year, as production cuts by Opec and its allies helped lift prices.

Positive global equity markets amid strong data from leading economies including the United States, Japan and Germany also boosted sentiment.

But in doing so, the organisation risks tightening the market too much, sending prices sharply higher and encouraging a faster-than-expected acceleration in production from USA shale producers.

OPEC led cuts are assisting to reduce global inventories.

Crude oil prices are on the boil again. Analysts and traders surveyed by The Wall Street Journal on average expect that stockpiles declined by 4.7 million barrels in the week ended December 29.

OPEC members have a poor track record of sticking to agreed quotas, but they kept within 95% of the required cuts, with Saudi Arabia cutting further, meaning the aggregate production cut held.

While there is a risk they may take profits after recent gains, potentially pressuring the market if funds sell out of positions, there are reasons to suspect they will not be easily dislodged.

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