Oil prices stay high

Oil prices stay high

The benchmark traded at an average price of about $51 this year.

Inventories are now down by nearly 20% from their historic highs last March and well below this time a year ago or in 2015.

United States refining runs increased, pushing capacity use to 95.7 per cent, the highest in December dating to 1998.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 20 cents to $59.84 a barrel.

Oil's revival from the biggest crash in a generation persisted, with prices set for a second annual gain after weathering everything from hurricanes and Middle East conflict to the tussle between OPEC and USA shale. Brent crude futures fell 11 cents to $66.33 a barrel.

This week, WTI broke above $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015, while Brent breached $67 for the first time since May 2015.

Iranians protest at corrupt clerics as inflation soars
This latest wave of protests is placing new pressure on Rouhani as his signature nuclear deal with world powers remains in peril. Earlier this week, demonstrations broke out in Isfahan , central Iran, in protest against the unemployment crisis.

A Reuters monthly poll showed analysts expect Brent crude to stay close to $60 in 2018.

Based on total expected quotas, China's imports-which at around 8.5 million bpd are already the world's biggest-are expected to hit another record in 2018 as new refining capacity is brought on stream and Beijing allows more independent refiners to import crude.

Oil markets have tightened after a year of production cuts led by Middle East-dominated Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian Federation.

There are also expectations in the market that OPEC's next meeting on November 30 will agree to extend cuts beyond the current expiry date in March 2018.

U.S. oil production, which has risen more than 16 percent since mid-2016, is expected to surpass 10 million bpd next year, some analysts said.

Prices also continue to be helped by pipeline outages in Libya and the North Sea, although both issues could be resolved early next year.

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