Oil prices surge on strong China data

Petrol prices have hit a two year high this week

This is quite a milestone, as WTI has not traded at $60/bbl since June 2015.Brent crude is also just off two-year highs, now at $66.72.

Oil prices were little changed on Thursday, remaining near 2-1/2-year highs after data showed strong demand for crude imports in China and on increased US refining activity that drew more crude from inventories.

Oil prices are hovering near two-year highs, as pipeline action and stock draws vie for traders' attention. But prices have rallied almost 50 percent since the middle of the year on robust demand and strong compliance with the production limits.

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WTI crude is now trading at $59.83/bbl, just below the $60.01/bbl reached in intraday trading earlier this week.

In today's poll, the experts surveyed by Reuters also raised their average forecast for Brent to $59.88 per barrel next year, up from the previous projection of $58.84 a barrel. Brent broke through $67 this week for the first time since May 2015.

"We see USA supply continuing to grow next year but are less concerned about a sudden supply glut re-emerging as rising D&C [drilling and completion] costs will likely slow production growth", Ashley Petersen at Stratas Advisors told Reuters. Analysts expect production to top 10 million bpd in the next few weeks and to keep growing, limiting efforts by other producers to cap global supplies.

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Prices were supported in early trade by China's release of strong import quotas for 2018.

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

Armed men blew up a Libyan pipeline pumping crude oil to Es Sider port on Tuesday, reducing the North African country's output by around 90,000 barrels a day, military and oil sources said.

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