‘India seeks to continue importing Iran oil despite United States sanctions’

Oil Prices Gain on Falling U.S. Inventories

"Oil prices jumped overnight as inventories drew down more than expected", said William O'Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia's Rivkin Securities.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 27 cents, or 0.41 percent, at $66.11 per barrel.

Oil prices rose 3%, with Brent crude futures hitting a three-week high. Refinery utilisation rates remained unchanged last week at 98.1% of total capacity, the highest rates since 1999.

Oil prices dipped last Friday, with USA crude heading for a seventh weekly decline amid increasing concerns about slowing global economic growth that could hit demand for petroleum products as inventories build. USA crude gained $1.28 to $67.12.

According to EIA, the inventories of gasoline and distillates increased by 1.2 million barrels and 1.8 million barrels, respectively, for the week.

According to the news report by Bloomberg, the price of oil went up despite low trading volumes, just ahead of the weekly crude oil supply data report in the US.

More news: Ukraine, Iran and human rights on agenda for talks with Putin: Merkel

Despite the logistics changes, China, the largest Iranian oil buyer, has said it won't halt purchases as requested by the U.S. India, the second biggest purchaser of Iranian crude, has also adapted to the changes, contracting NITC to carry and deliver its supplies.

Today, three months before the November deadline when the sanctions are due to take effect, Iran's outflow has already fallen by around 430,000 barrels and the nation has to rely more on its own fleet of tankers to carry oil to its customers, clearly showing that buyers are hesitant to continue purchasing Iranian oil. Saudi Arabia told Opec it cut supply in July, rather than increasing output as expected.

Iran is the third-biggest producer within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), exporting on average around 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude and condensate this year, equivalent to around 2.5 percent of global consumption.

Concerns that an escalating trade war between China and the US could slow economic growth and weigh on crude purchases eased slightly after sources told Reuters that China's Unipec will resume purchases of USA crude oil in October, after a two-month halt due to the fight.

Official data from the US Energy Information Administration is due 2:30pm GMT on Wednesday.

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