Analysts said that could have been the result of extreme cold temperatures across the United States. USA gasoline stocks rose 4.1 million barrels, EIA data showed, more than expected, while Singapore average refinery profit margins have fallen below $6 per barrel this month, their lowest seasonal level in five years. EIA's latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) from earlier this week estimated that USA crude oil production averaged 9.3 million bpd in the whole of 2017, and 9.9 million bpd in December alone.
Inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, site decreased by 2.516 million barrels this week.
This reduction in the size of excess stocks emerged as a catalyst for higher oil prices.
Oil slipped in London after briefly climbing above $70 a barrel for the first time in three years as a global surplus recedes.Brent futures declined 0.6 percent, having added 1.8 percent this week in a fourth weekly increase.
The ability to hold above $60/b will likely be tested as refinery demand ebbs. "As per the International Energy Agency's latest data USA production has been averaging 9.6 million barrels per day", the report said.
Output stayed below that mark the next two weeks, perhaps on account of weather-related problems which could have played a role last week as well.
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He warned, meanwhile, that oil prices above $60 per barrel could be a spoiler as US shale oil producers would take advantage of the rally by expanding their exploration and production work.
Data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows the size of the short position for swap dealers has climbed into record territory, an indication of increased producer hedging. Accordingly crude import bill will rise by around USD 1.5 billion for every dollar increase in crude price, the report said. If confirmed, that would still be far higher than a year ago when utilization averaged 93.6%.
The West Texas Intermediate for February delivery increased 0.50 US dollar to settle at 64.30 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for March delivery added 0.61 dollar to close at 69.87 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange. Distillates production averaged 5.592 million b/d the week ending December 29, an all-time high for the second period in a row.
Much of the production growth will be concentrated in the Permian Basin, the largest USA oilfield stretching across Texas and New Mexico, said John Staub, the EIA director of the office of petroleum, natural gas and biofuels analysis.
On top of usual sources of demand, many industrial and commercial customers in the region were asked by their local utilities to switch from natural gas to heating fuel. Customers buying gasoline at grocery stores and other independent retailers may pay more than those shopping at name-brand outlets after the biggest gasoline pipeline in the US sprung a leak in Alabama on September 9. Pelham junction and tank farm in Pelham, Alabama, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016.