(Reuters) Oil rose to its highest since May 2015 on Thursday, supported by unrest in Iran that has raised concerns about supply risks, cold weather in the US that is boosting demand and OPEC-led output cuts.
Six days of anti-government protests in OPEC’s third-largest producer have added a geopolitical risk premium to oil prices, although Iran’s production and exports have not been affected.
Brent crude LCOc1, the international benchmark, was down 1 cent at $67.83 a barrel at 1318 GMT. It traded as high as $68.27 earlier in the session. US crude CLc1 rose 15 cents to $61.78 and also touched the highest since May 2015.
Impact of freezing weather in US
“There is enough support for prices with the cold in the US and the geopolitical factor,” said Olivier Jakob, oil analyst at Petromatrix.
Freezing weather in the US has spurred short-term demand, especially for heating oil.
Aside from the spike in May 2015, oil is trading at its highest since December 2014 - the month after a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to stop cutting output to support prices, a move that deepened a price collapse.
Analysts at JBC Energy said the price reaction to the Iranian unrest was overdone, while Swiss bank Julius Baer said prices projected “an overly rosy picture” that left the market at risk of profit-taking.