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Right now, that discount is roughly US$27 per barrel or almost twice as much as the US$15 per barrel historical average, meaning Canadian oil sands producers can expect to make just US$33 for every barrel they produce whenever the continental benchmark breaks above US$60.

The rise saw WTI hitting its highest level since June 2015 on the final trading day of 2017.Brent crude futures - the global benchmark for oil prices - were also up, rising 33 cents or 0.5 percent to $66.49 a barrel.

US production is expected to rise to 9.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2017 and a record 10.0 million bpd in 2018 from 8.9 million bpd in 2016, according to federal energy projections this week.

Rystad Energy further predicts U.S. crude oil production could pass the levels of both Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation within a year from now. And the apparent bombing of a Libyan oil pipeline by extremists Tuesday is seen crimping output, strengthening expectations for higher prices of Middle Eastern crude.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped 13 cents to $59.51 a barrel this evening, a day after briefly touching $60 a barrel.


Specifically, slightly more than half the survey's respondents expect the rig count to continue to climb six months from now, but almost all said oil above $60 will be needed for a substantial increase. Inventories declined 1% week-over-week and 54.2 MMbbls or 11.15% year-over-year.

Refiners have profited in recent months as the spread widened between United States crude and Brent futures prices.

Total crude oil imports to China, one of the world's biggest oil consumers, rebounded to the second-highest level on record in November at 9.01 million barrels per day (bpd).

Trading was typically thin at year end, with many traders on vacation.

Pipeline outages in Libya and the North Sea have also been supporting oil prices, although both these disruptions are expected to be resolved by early January.


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