United States crude inventories fell 5.8-million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, more than the 1.5-million-barrel draw forecast by analysts polled by Reuters. USA crude CLc1 was up 89 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $68.72. Refinery utilisation rates remained unchanged last week at 98.1% of total capacity, the highest rates since 1999.
Chinese shipowners have quit hauling Iranian crude oil, while Iran has been putting in place measures to ensure its trade with China continues, despite the upcoming second round of US sanctions, Kallanish Energy learns.
In May, the difference between crude oil exports and imports increased even further, to 470,000 barrels per day.
The U.S. dollar index against a basket of six major currencies eased on Wednesday to 95.211 after losing 0.7 percent the previous day, weighed down by U.S. President Trump's comments on monetary policy.
Brent crude oil futures were at $74.93 per barrel at 0245 GMT, up 20 cents, or 0.3 per cent, from their last close.
"With countries including China and India unwilling to completely cut Iranian oil imports, and with the European Union also refusing to endorse the withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal, the United States finds itself in a compromising position to negotiate with Iran's customers to reduce oil imports", the statement added.More news: Bama, Clemson lead AP preseason Top 25 poll
US commercial crude oil inventories fell by 5.8 million barrels in the week to August 17 to 408.36 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
"The Iran issue continues to occupy traders' minds", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
Over the past four weeks, crude oil imports averaged 8.05 million barrels per day, 2.2 percent lower than the same four-week period a year ago.
According to BNP Paribas' London head of commodity markets strategy, Harry Tchilinguirian, considering the amount of oil lost from Iranian exports, it would need increases in production from other suppliers like Saudi Arabia to stabilize the oil market.
Signs of tighter supply countered concern about slowing oil demand stemming partly from the trade dispute between the USA and China, the world's two largest economies.
Singaporean bank said on Friday that Chinese data showed a "steady decline in activities" and that "the economy is facing added headwinds due to rising trade tensions with the U.S".