Oil rose on Thursday to its highest since May 2015, on concern about supply risks due to unrest in Iran and another decline in U.S. inventories as refining activity hit a 12-year high.
U.S. oil stocks fell more than expected, continuing a steady drawdown of supplies in the world’s largest oil consumer, though stocks of distillates and gasoline rose on heavy refining activity driven in part by year-end adjustments.
However, cold weather across much of the country was expected to keep demand high, as heating oil prices were just off highs not seen since early 2015.
Brent crude LCOc1, the international benchmark, rose 5 cents to $67.92 a barrel as of 1:53 a.m. EST (1853 GMT) after hitting a high of $68.27 earlier in the session. U.S. crude CLc1 rose 34 cents to $61.97, after earlier hitting $62.21, its highest since May 2015.
Freezing weather in the United States has spurred short-term demand, especially for heating oil. Heating oil futures were down 0.8 percent to $2.0712 a gallon; the contract hit highs not seen since February 2014 earlier in the week.
U.S. crude stocks USOILC=ECI fell by 7.4 million barrels in the last week of 2017, exceeding expectations, as refiners boosted activity to their highest rate since 2005, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.