Oil on Track for Biggest Yearly Gain Since 2009

Brent has risen about 50% this year.Brent has risen about 50% this year.

Oil prices were on track for their biggest annual gain since 2009 after the OPEC grouping and other major producers agreed to cut crude output to reduce a global supply overhang that has depressed prices for two years.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 6 cents at $53.83 a barrel on Friday, while Brent front-month March crude stayed flat at $56.85, Reuters reported.

Brent has risen about 50% this year and WTI has climbed around 43%, the largest annual gains since 2009, when Brent and WTI rose 78% and 71% respectively.

Oil has more than halved since the summer of 2014, when it was above $100 a barrel. The fall in prices due to oversupply, in part thanks to the US shale oil revolution, was accentuated later that year when Saudi Arabia rejected any OPEC deal to cut output and instead fought for market share.

But a new OPEC agreement to reduce production, struck over three months from September this year, marks a return to the 13-country group's old objective of defending prices although doubts remain as to its effectiveness in implementation.

In a sign that producers are adhering to the six-month cut starting in January, Oman told some customers it will reduce term allocations by 5% in March, but did not say whether the supply reduction would continue after that.

Equally as important to oil prices next year will be the development of demand globally, and major forecasters diverge in their predictions.

"We see a big variation in demand growth assessments for 2017, ranging from +1.22 million barrels per day ... to +1.57 million bpd," analysts at JBC said in a note to clients.

"Overall, all forecasters agree that Asia will remain the main engine for demand growth. Yet, there is no consensus on the extent of Chinese and Indian year-on-year demand growth."

Oil will gradually rise toward $60 per barrel by the end of 2017, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, with further upside capped by a strong dollar, a likely recovery in US oil output, and possible non-compliance with agreed cuts.

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