Supply discipline and demand to prop up oil prices in 2018

US exports of crude oil and petroleum products have more than doubled since 2010- EIA

At the same time, speculation is rising that American drillers will put more rigs to work next year as oil strengthens.

USA output is still up by nearly 16% since mid-2016, but most analysts had expected production to break through 10 million bpd by the end of this year-a level only surpassed by top exporter Saudi Arabia and top producer Russian Federation.

The US Energy Department said crude stocks fell 4.6 million barrels in the latest week. Inventories excluding the nation's strategic reserve have declined more than 11 per cent in the a year ago.

US refining runs increased, pushing overall capacity use among the nation's refiners to 95.7%, the highest in December since 1998, according to the US Energy Department.

West Texas Intermediate, the USA benchmark, is now trading at the highest level since mid-2015, pushed above $60 a barrel by a severe cold snap in the northeastern United States that spiked demand for heating fuel.

The survey of 32 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude would average US$59.88 a barrel in 2018, up from the US$58.84 forecast in the previous monthly poll.

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"The key driver for the oil market this year has been that the OPEC and Russian production cuts were introduced, complied with and extended", said Ric Spooner, a Sydney-based analyst at CMC Markets.

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.

Crude oil witnessed a continued increase with the global prices extending their recovery well and truly this year.

In the most recent week, U.S. production dipped modestly to 9.75 million bpd from 9.79 mln bpd the previous week.

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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