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West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery, which expires on Friday, traded at $68.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 8 cents, at 08:51 in London.

Brent futures were down 40 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $71.76 a barrel by 0027 GMT.

Iran, which is the third-largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), now counts China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey as its biggest importers, but not for long. Holding production steady would mean shipping less crude than Saudi Arabia indicated after the Opec deal.

Aama further noted that Saudi Arabia will not substantially oversupply the market, dismissing concerns over an oil glut as baseless.

Crude oil prices knocked higher on Wednesday as consumption indicators signal that demand for crude is on the rise, and WTI kicked higher to 68.96 despite a continuing buildup in U.S. inventories.

Trade tensions between the US and China have stoked fears of damage to their economies and commodities demand.

"It's going to be a real tug of war: the higher price of diesel versus a weakening gasoline market", Zachary Rogers, a refining analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said.

China's crude oil imports fell for a second month in a row in June to the lowest since December, as shrinking margins and volatile oil prices led some independent refiners to scale back purchases.

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Following a massive global supply glut, prices had been propped up in recent months by a production cap agreement led by oil cartel OPEC and Russian Federation, but this has since been scaled back.

Despite the jump, inventories at the USA oil delivery hub for WTI in Cushing, Oklahoma were forecast to have fallen 1.8 million barrels, or 6.2 percent, through Tuesday, traders said, citing energy information provider Genscape.

Even higher United States production was likely, Rystad Energy said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has hardened his stance toward Iran and withdrawn his country from an worldwide nuclear weapons agreement.

USA refiners ran full-tilt in the second quarter, fueled by cheap domestic crude and fat margins that should boost earnings, though their heavy activity could eventually saturate the market with gasoline, sapping profits down the road.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday that US crude production had reached 11-million barrels a day for the first time. The United States has added almost 1 million bpd in production since November, thanks to rapid increases in shale drilling. US crude stocks rose by 5.8 million barrels last week, compared with a forecast for a decline of 3.6 million barrels.

Production of crude topped 10.7 million barrels per day with production of natural gas hitting 4 million barrels per day, according to an analysis released by the American Petroleum Institute (API) Thursday.

Today, API released its monthly statistical report for June of 2018 highlighting that USA production of crude oil and natural gas liquids hit its highest level ever.


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