Volatility has been low this week with market liquidity drying up ahead of the Christmas and New Year breaks, but the U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil trended high enough to put them in positions to challenge their highest levels since 2015.
U.S. WTI and Brent crude oil were primarily supported by a bullish weekly government inventories report and the continued shutdown of the North Sea Forties pipeline system.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. crude oil stocks fell by 6.5 million barrels, more than expected, in the week to December 15, while gasoline stocks rose 1.2 million barrels, less than anticipated, even though refining activity rose.
Crude stocks, excluding the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, currently stand at 436.5 million barrels, the lowest since 2015.
The EIA also said that for the most recent week, refiner capacity utilization rose to 94.1 percent, the highest since the summer, and above average for December.
In other news, Kuwait’s oil minister Bakhit al-Rashidi said compliance among both OPEC and non-OPEC members currently stands at 122 percent, highest since the OPEC-led deal to cut production was implemented in January.
The same factors that influenced the price action this week should continue to support crude oil prices next week. Brent crude oil prices are expected to be supported by the continuing outage of the U.K.’s…