Global crude oil prices have seen little fluctuation this week, with benchmarks staying within a $0.50 range. At close to $100 a barrel, European markets continue to show a premium on the US, although it has not widened further.

Brent crude prices remained largely stable at close to $100 a barrel, dropping only $0.20 to $98.10 a barrel from 13 January when it was priced at $98.30 a barrel.

The 12-crude basket of exports from the member states of the oil producers group Opec are expected to average $93.78 a barrel for the week ending 14 January. This is up $0.48 a barrel on the previous week, which settled at $93.30 a barrel.

Similarly, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract prices dipped to $90.82 a barrel. It is down $0.09 from 13 January when they stood at $91.91 a barrel.

Opec released its monthly oil market report on 17 January, lifting its forecast for world oil demand growth in 2011 to 1.23 million barrels a day (b/d), compared to its previous estimate of 1.18 million b/d for the year. Total demand is forecast at 87.32 million b/d.  

The cartel estimates global oil demand to have grown 1.6 million b/d in 2010, after an upward revision of 130,000 b/d since its December report. The spate of cold weather across the US and Europe induced extra consumption of heating and fuel oils boosting demand in December, more than offsetting weak demand for transport fuels, according to Opec.

The demand for Opec crude in 2010 was 29 million b/d, while for 2011, Opec crude is expected to average 29.4 million b/d, an increase of 400,000 b/d.

In its short-term energy outlook, released on 11 January, the US’ Energy Information Administration says it world oil consumption to grow on average 1.5 million b /d until 2012 (MEED 13:1:10).