U.S. crude prices hit fresh highs on Wednesday, topping $61 a barrel for the first time in 2½ years, as a week of unrest in Iran continued.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was trading up $1.05, or 1.7 percent, at $61.42, near the highest level since June 2015. International benchmark Brent crude rose 94 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $67.51, also near a 2½-year high going back to May 2015.
Concerns over protests in Iran, OPEC’s third largest oil producer, have boosted crude prices this week, even though analysts say the country’s supplies face no immediate risk of disruption.
The gains came despite signs that U.S. drillers continue to pump more as prices rise. U.S. oil output is quickly approaching all-time highs above 10 million barrels a day set in the 1970s.
Pipeline outages in the UK North Sea and Libya have also been resolved, removing a catalyst that sent oil prices higher in December.
Some analysts say the current mid-2015 highs are unsustainable in light of financial positioning among traders. The number of bets that oil prices will continue to rise has risen sharply in recent weeks, while bets that prices will fall have sunk.