Goldman Sachs raises 2018 oil price forecast

US Crude Ends 2017 Above $60, But This Sets Stage For Shale/OPEC Clash, Say Analysts

WTI prices were supported by data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration late on Thursday showing domestic oil production C-OUT-T-EIA declined last week to 9.75 million barrels per day (bpd) from 9.79 million bpd the previous week.

It was the first time since January 2014 that the two crude oil benchmarks opened the year above $60 per barrel, buoyed by large anti-government rallies in Iran and ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and Russian Federation.

WTI rose 58 cents to $60.42 per barrel on Friday, its best closing price since June of 2015; Brent rose 76 cents to $66.92 per barrel.

Lipow said he expected USA crude prices to creep up to around $63 a barrel by the end of next year, while Brent would remain around $67 a barrel as US oil exports rise to record levels.

"Growing unrest in Iran set the table for a bullish start to 2018", the USA -based Schork Report said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

Chinese manufacturing growth slows slightly in December
The Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 51.5 last month, up from 50.8 in November . The pickup in December's manufacturing PMI came on the back of strong demand both at home and overseas .

Iran, OPEC's third-biggest oil producer, pumps around 3.8 million barrels per day.

"At present you cant ignore the impact of the Forties pipeline outage", said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital Llc in New York, "Its a significant amount of oil that the market is going to miss and is missing".

"Independent E&P firms will be particularly attractive to larger independents and integrated oil companies", Moody's said in its 2018 credit trends report. In the last quarter of 2016, Russia's production had hit a post-Soviet era high, while year over year in 2016, production grew to 10.96 million bpd, from 10.72 million bpd in 2015.

Even without the unrest in Iran, which is a major oil exporter, market sentiment was bullish.

Oil markets have been supported by a year of production cuts and strong demand from China.

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