OPEC members not keen on Brent prices above $60

Oil prices up following crude inventories' fall

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.62 a barrel at 3.44am GMT, 18c or 0.3% above their last settlement, and not far off the $62.21 May 2015 high reached last week.

Most recently, traders and oil market observers are waiting to see whether President Donald Trump on Wednesday extends US sanctions relief to Iran as part of the 2015 worldwide agreement to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

Oil's price rally this year to its highest since May 2015 may seem a source of glee for OPEC, but some in the producer group fear the gains could prompt shale companies to crank open their spigots and flood the market. A weekly decline in the number of USA drilling rigs led both contracts to a higher close on Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/api-data-reportedly-show-a-weekly-drop-in-us-crude-supplies-2018-01-03).

Traders and analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect government data due Wednesday to show crude stockpiles declined on average by 2.5 million barrels in the week ended January 5, which would mark the eighth consecutive week of inventory draws if estimates are accurate. "We expect to see growth near 2 million barrels per day in 2018 and 1.3 million barrels per day in 2019".

"U.S. crude oil production is forecast to average 10.3 million b/d in 2018, which would mark the highest annual average production in USA history, surpassing the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970", the report said. Economic collapse is leading to involuntary production cuts in Venezuela, another OPEC member.

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"If WTI were to go back below the 2017 high of $60.48, which was hit late in the year, and the 2018's opening price of $60.09, then the technical outlook would turn bearish on oil".

The EIA forecast that USA crude oil production will average 10.3 million barrels per day in 2018 and 10.8 million barrels per day in 2019, breaking historical records for annual average production.

"The U.S. oil price is now into a range that is anticipated to attract increased shale oil production", said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

Rising U.S. production and weaker refined products demand weighed on the market, traders said.

Futures extended gains to as much as 1.7% in NY.

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