Brent crude was steady today, despite remaining near a nine-month high, on predictions that the demand for oil is expected to increase quicker than expected in 2013, although easing tensions in Iran put a cap on prices.

Brent crude dropped only three cents to $118.63 per barrel, while US crude also dropped by one cent to $97.50 per barrel, reported Reuters.

The 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said in its monthly report that consumption of oil will rise by 840,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2013, 80,000bpd more than anticipated earlier.

OPEC said that demand for its crude is expected to rise to 29.78mbpd in 2013, an increase of 130,000bpd from its previous estimate, mainly driven by higher demand and minor change in supply outlook from producers outside the group.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) also said that demand will rise by 110,000bpd to 1.05mbpd, while global demand will jump to 90.2mbpd in 2013.

"OPEC said that demand for its crude is expected to rise to 29.78mbpd in 2013, an increase of 130,000bpd."

A Reuters poll showed that crude stocks may have risen 2.4 million barrels in the week to 8 February.

For a third day this week, trading activity was still low, as China, Taiwan and Hong Kong remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

On the other hand, pressure rising over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme showed some signs of relaxing, which provided some relief to oil markets from the push towards higher prices.

Iran has admitted that it was converting some of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel, an admission that could help to avoid a disagreement with the West over its nuclear programme.

Image: New OPEC HQ in Vienna. Photo courtesy of Priwo.