Crude oil prices in the US almost reached $74 a barrel as OPEC decided to keep its production levels unchanged.

For the new front-month February contract, crude increased by 27¢ to $73.99 a barrel at 2:55am EST following expiry of the January contract on 21 December. For February, London Brent crude increased by 21¢ to $73.20 a barrel, according to Reuters.

Last week US crude inventories were projected to fall by 1.6 million barrels as refiners drew down inventories for end-of-year tax issues, a fall that would follow a drop of over three million barrels in the earlier two weeks.

Distillate stocks, including heating oil and diesel, were projected to fall 2.1 million barrels as last week’s chilly weather increased heating oil demand in the north-east region of the US.