Meanwhile, given the sudden rebound in the crude oil markets, US producers, or mainly the upstart shale oil industry, has been ramping up production to capitalize on the higher prices to the dismay of OPEC and other global oil suppliers.
Oil prices have been steadily rising since the major OPEC group of oil-producing nations, along with Russian Federation, agreed last autumn to maintain production cuts - credited with lifting prices previous year as they intended.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery gained as much as 83cents to $62.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest intraday price since May 2015, and traded at $62.16 at 2.59pm in Hong Kong yesterday. Meanwhile, the price of US WTI crude oil was 0.76% higher at $63.44 per barrel.
Brent crude futures were at $69.15 a barrel, 33 cents, or 0.5 per cent, above their last close.
Last year, Opec and other nations including Russian Federation said they would extend a deal to cut production to help support oil prices that had fallen below $50 a barrel when the agreement was struck in 2016.
OPEC and allies, including Russian Federation, are keeping supply limits in place in 2018, a second year of restraint, to reduce a price-denting glut of oil held in inventories.
"There must be a special factor at play, perhaps the extreme winter weather in North Dakota, which hampered shale oil production in the Bakken", said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, Germany. However, the Iraqi oil minister said Tuesday that oil exports should begin to flow from the country by the end of January.
Oil prices edge up to three-month high
The country, which in 2013 replaced the United States as Nigeria's biggest market, had, before the last April's crash in demand, saw its import of Nigerian crude rise to a peak of 20.37 million barrels in April 2015.
Crude inventories USOILC=ECI fell 4.9 million barrels in the week to January 5, compared with analysts' expectations for a fall of 3.9 million barrels.
Only last week the RAC warned that the "good times" of lower fuel prices are likely to be behind us for the time being, noting that at the end of December 2017 a tank of unleaded cost nearly £4 more than it did in July.
OPEC's policy is to bring inventories down to their normal levels and will stay the course, unless the disruption in supply of something like 1,000,000 barrels per day persists for more than a month, and causes shortages of crude supply to consumers.. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $6.19 to March WTI. Venezuela's oil production has been falling steadily over the past months, and OPEC's crude oil production remained largely unchanged from November in December, mostly thanks to a 50,000-bpd decline in Venezuela's production, a Bloomberg survey showed last week.
Higher oil prices helped support oil major stock prices.