The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.99 to WTI for December. Oil prices have climbed following API inventory data, which revealed a 7.1 million barrel decline in US crude inventories, versus expectations for a 4 million barrel draw.
After months of range-bound trading during which Opec-led supply cuts supported crude values but rising USA output capped markets, prices have moved up significantly this month. Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Opec, pumps most of its 4.47 million barrels a day from fields in the south and ships it from the Persian Gulf port of Basra.
Brent prices had already reached a yearly peak of $59.49 on September 26, the day after a referendum was held on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Oil prices ended little changed on Tuesday, steadying after earlier gains and losses, as expectations of high USA production and exports offset concerns that fighting between Iraqi and Kurdish forces could threaten the country's crude output.
Asked about the conflict in Iraq between the government and separatist Kurds and the USA decision to decertify its nuclear deal with Iran, Birol said it is premature to assess the impact of these geopolitical risks on oil markets.
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Approximately one million barrels per day (bpd) of oil were cut from the worldwide market during the previous round of sanctions against Iran.
Brent oil prices retreated from three-week highs on Wednesday, after a surprising drop in USA refining rates and an unexpected gasoline and diesel stock build signaled lower demand in the world's top oil consumer.
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was officially withdrawing his certification of Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, in what is being billed as part of a tougher strategy on Iran.
OPEC and other key producers made a decision to curb oil output by 1.8 million bpd from January this year to March next year.
However, inventories of gasoline and diesel rose, the latter unexpectedly, reviving some concerns about elevated stockpiles during a time when demand for petroleum products declines.
Along with these political developments, oil prices are also supported from the ongoing supply cuts to OPEC. "Collectively, OPEC countries lost more than $1 trillion". "We see Brent averaging $54 this quarter and $52.50/bbl in first-half 2018, compared with our previous forecasts of $50 and $49.50/bbl respectively", it said.