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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Oil prices were little changed on Thursday as a lower-than-expected drop in US crude inventories and a potentially weaker demand outlook kept investors cautious.
September Brent futures climbed 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $79.52 a barrel at 9:45 a.m. Saudi time, while August US West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 gained 5 cents, or 0.1 percent, to hit $75.40 a barrel.
US crude stocks fall in latest week on exports: EIA
US crude inventories fell last week, supported by a jump in crude exports as well as higher refinery utilization, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Sales of crude oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserves ended in the last week of June, tightening the market for crude oil globally.
Inventories at the critical Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub, drew down 2.9 million barrels in the week ending July 14, EIA said, as net US crude exports rose by 1.67 million barrels per day to 3.81 million bpd.
Crude inventories fell by 708,000 barrels in the last week to 457.4 million, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a drop of 2.4 million barrels, the EIA data showed.
Refinery utilization rates rose by six-tenths of a percentage point in the week, while refinery crude runs were down by 74,000 barrels per day in the last week, EIA said.
Fuel stocks drew or remained stagnant week on week amid stronger demand for gasoline and distillate fuels.
Gasoline product supplied, a proxy for demand, rose by about 100,000 bpd while distillate product supplied jumped by about 700,000 barrels per day, the EIA data showed.
US gasoline stocks fell by 1.1 million barrels in the week to 218.4 million barrels, the EIA said, while distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by only 14,000 barrels in the week to 118.2 million barrels.
China’s June imports of Russian crude jump to record 2.56m bpd
China’s imports of crude oil from Russia hit an all-time high in June, Chinese government data showed on Thursday, with refiners continuing to snap up discounted Russian ESPO even as discounts against international benchmarks narrow.
Arrivals from Russia totaled 10.50 million tons in June, or 2.56 million bpd, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
Shipments from Saudi Arabia, which has in recent months been China’s second largest crude supplier, totaled 7.92 million tons last month, equivalent to 1.93 million bpd.
(With input from Reuters)
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