Crude prices extended gains on the fifth day in a row on Monday, rallying to their highest levels since October 2018 as global refineries fail to keep up with fuel demand that is projected to reach pre-pandemic levels by early next year. At 1105 hours GMT, Brent, the international benchmark for two-thirds of the world’s oil, gained $0.99 (+1.27 percent) to reach $79.08 a barrel. Similarly, the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) reached $74.85 a barrel, up by $0.84 (+1.14 percent). The price for Opec Basket was recorded at $75.44 a barrel with 1.32 percent increase, Arab Light was available at $77.44 a barrel with a 1.51 percent increase, while the price of Russian Sokol jumped to $77.87 after gaining 1.55 percent. According to experts, the crude price rally is being attributed to the swift recovery of demand across the world as economies open up with the easing of pandemic restrictions. At the same time, a natural gas rally is expected to further push demand for oil higher as users switch fuels. However, global oil refining capacity is inevitably weighing on the supply-demand balance. They said that one reason markets are tightening is because the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers including Russia have been easing the agreed production limits, but not enough to meet global demand. Another is the extreme weather conditions impacting US crude output, they said. They were of the view that demand seems to be stronger than expected in the near term.