At 1500 GMT, October ICE Brent was trading $1.81 lower at $72.84/b, while September NYMEX crude was down $1.87 at $67.30/b.
Rosneft's oil-output plans for late 2018 "will depend on what happens on the OPEC front", said Eric Liron, the company's top executive in charge of production, "Be it OPEC, OPEC plus, OPEC plus plus, OPEC minus, minus minus".
Refiners in China are unlikely to increase purchases of American crude even after the Ministry of Commerce removed oil from its list of U.S. goods slated for tariffs, according to Michal Meidan, an analyst with Energy Aspects Ltd.
International Olympic Committee has signed a contract to buy about 6 million barrels of U.S. crude oil under single tender for delivery in November 2018 to January 2019, he said.
Futures in NY were little changed after a 0.8-percent increase on Monday.
The prices of both Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped by over 2.5 percent on Wednesday morning following the reported draw of crude oil inventory by U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Crude production declined 100,000 barrels per day to 10.8 million bpd in the week, according to the report. The crude oil imports maintained the same levels during the last two weeks.
China is slapping additional tariffs of 25 percent on $16 billion worth of USA imports, from fuel and steel products to autos and medical equipment.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected stocks to drop by 3.3 million barrels.
The sanctions are already brewing a potential confrontation between the U.S. and Iran as Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, an important sea route through which tankers ship more than 30 per cent of crude oil to the worldwide market, in retaliation to the sanctions. This is something that the market desperately needed, after getting slammed the previous day.
Refinery crude runs rose by 118,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed.
Later on Friday, Baker Hughes will publish its weekly report on the United States oil rig count. Iran's oil exports to India rose by more than 40,000 b/d from June to 706,452 b/d in July. Last week's U.S. EIA crude oil inventories jumped significantly, putting downward pressure on oil prices before finding some support in the latter half of the week. The differential was 4.72 dollars at the end of the week.
The higher differentials between the two major benchmarks are, the more arbitrage opportunities for traders to pursue. "If worst comes to worst and 1.5-2 million bpd of Iranian disappears from the market. calculations will go out of the window and oil bears will have to brace themselves for a very rough ride", PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga said.
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