New York's main contract, light sweet crude for April delivery, settled at $US82.2, while London's Brent North Sea crude for April rose to $US80.4. After spiking as high as US$83 a barrel, oil prices settled above US$82, oil prices have increased on signs of strengthening demand amid clear signs that the economy is starting to recover from recession. Economic recovery is coupled with the optimism of the approaching summer driving season when gasoline demand peaks in USA. The US Department of Energy's (DoE) weekly oil inventory report on Wednesday showed a surprise drop in petrol stockpiles by 2.9 million barrels in the week to March 5, surprising the market as most analysts had expected an increase of about 100,000 barrels. Also adding to the price rally is an increase in outlook for world oil demand by OPEC.