Expect a major oil price rally in November as a direct result of sanctions on Iran, not to mention a moribund Venezuelan oil production, and USA oil reserves falling.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $67.61 per barrel at 0112 GMT, up 7 cents from their last settlement.
With Middle East crude markets tightening because of the U.S. sanctions against Iran, many Asian refiners are seeking alternative supplies, with South Korean imports of USA crude likely hitting a record in November.
"It was a mixed performance in the crude oil market", said ANZ bank in a note, pointing to Washington's sanctions against Iran's oil exports that will be enforced from November.
Oil cut earlier losses and rose towards its highest level this year on Wednesday, after a drop in US crude inventories and as the prospect of the loss of Iranian supply added to concerns over the delicate balance between consumption and production.
"South Korea bought 194,000 bpd from Iran in July", OilPrice said. At the moment, the barrel of WTI is trading at $69.30, adding 2.65% on the day. Eyes will be on Iranian oil import data from China and India who typically import around 500-700k barrels.
Gordon Gray, of HSBC, warned the market not to rule out a return to $100 a barrel, saying the multi-year price spike is "not out of the question". "The situation should be closely watched, the right decisions should be taken", he said. "Russia has the potential to raise production by 300,000 barrels (per day) mid-term, in addition to the level of October 2016", he said.
S&P global Platts said OPEC, in a report, indicated demand for the organization's own crude oil in September will be nearly 1 million bpd more than the level produced in August.
That month Russian Federation produced 11.247 million bpd, a post-Soviet Union record-high.
Novak said global oil markets were "fragile" due to geopolitical risks and supply disruptions.
Combined output by these three producers has risen by 3.8 million bpd since September 2014, more than the peak 3 million bpd Iran has managed during the last three years.
"Second-largest producer Iraq boosted its output 90,000 bpd to 4.65 million bpd".
Despite this, the short-term outlook for oil markets is for tighter supply.
U.S. crude production is expected to rise 840,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 11.5 million bpd next year, lower than a previous expectation for a rise of 1.02 million bpd to 11.7 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a monthly report.
"World demand will average 98.82 million bpd in 2018, a demand growth of 1.62 million bpd", said S&P.
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