Oil post its biggest annual gain since 2009 as demand recovers, Bloomberg said. 

West Texas Intermediate rose 55% for the biggest year-to-date gain in over a decade. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 50%, the largest gain since 2016. Investors are now trying to gauge the outlook for energy demand over the coming year as the latest Covid-19 variant rapidly spreads and OPEC gathers with allied producers next week to discuss output policy, Bloomberg reports. 

Oil prices fell on Friday but were set to post their biggest annual gains since at least 2016, spurred by the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic slump and producer restraint, even as infections reached record highs worldwide, Reuters said.

Brent crude futures settled down $1.75, or 2.2%, at $77.78 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped $1.78, or 2.31%, to $75.21 a barrel. Brent ended the year up 50.5%, its biggest gain since 2016, while WTI posted a 55.5% gain, the strongest performance for the benchmark contract since 2009, when prices soared more than 70%. Both contracts touched their 2021 peak in October, with Brent at $86.70 a barrel, the highest since 2018, and WTI at $85.41 a barrel, the highest since 2014.

A Reuters survey of 35 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude would average $73.57 a barrel in 2022, about 2% lower than the $75.33 consensus in November. It is the first reduction in the 2022 price forecast since the August poll.

In the US, the oil rig count fell for a second week, by 14 to 538 in the week ended Dec. 29, energy analytics and software company Enverus said Dec. 30. The count in the US’ biggest field, the Permian basin, fell by 5 oil and gas rigs to 300. Nonetheless, US oil production has continued to climb. Most recent data from the US Energy Information Administration showed US crude production rising by 200,000 b/d in the week ended Dec. 24 to 11.8 million b/d. Crude production in the US was now at a high not seen since May 2020, though it remains some distance from an all-time high of 13.1 million b/d touched in March 2020, S&P Global reports.