US Crude Oil Inventories Have Fallen ~10.6% in 2017

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Futures are up more than 12 per cent in 2017, having entered a bull market in September.

Pipeline outages in Libya and the North Sea have also supported prices. In 2018, investors will watch if USA output undermines OPEC's curbs. That could undermine plans by the Opec and and other producers, including Russian Federation, who have pledged to extend production curbs through the end of 2018 to wipe out a global glut. After Hurricane Harvey shut Gulf Coast refiners at the end of August and hurt prices, violence in Iraq and a pipe crack in the United Kingdom have helped buoy crude.

While some producers have no choice but to take whatever price the market has set for their products, others have found various ways of becoming less beholden to the price fluctuations of a single grade of crude oil.

North American crude oil prices are finally hovering near the US$60 per barrel mark - for the first time in more than two years - but most Canadian prices are nowhere even close to that level.

Texans' GM Rick Smith to take extended leave of absense
Houston has traded away its first- and second-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and does not have a pick until the third round. Earlier this month, O'Brien said that he "will never quit as head football coach of the Houston Texans ".

Trading was typically thin at the end of the year, with many traders still on holidays.

Besides the weekly drawdown, the EIA also said that USA oil production dipped to 9.754 million barrels per day, down from 9.789 million bpd the previous week. That beat the 3.75 million average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

But while 2018 is shaping up to be a tumultuous year for crude, it could be that the USA plays a lesser role in creating chaos than some think: the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas this week noted in its latest survey of 134 energy firms based in Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana that prices above $60 per barrel are needed to see a significant uptick in activity.

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. "Like we've seen this year, geopolitical risks will be the key factor going forward for oil to breach $60".

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