Asian crude buyers cheer price competition between OPEC, US

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The selling pressure intensified as trade tensions between the USA and China raised concerns about demand. The prospect of lower demand for OPEC crude would enable the group to deal with upside surprises, the report said.

The recovery was prompted by a report from the US Energy Information Administration that US crude oil inventories fell by 12.6 million barrels in the week to July 6, nearly three times the drop expected. Total volume traded was about 9% below the 100-day average.

Oil prices rose about 1 percent on Friday as strike actions in Norway and Iraq hit supplies, but futures were set for a second straight week of decline after Libyan ports reopened and on the view that Iran might still export some crude despite USA sanctions.

US light crude, supported by a tight North American market, was down 75 cents at $73.36 a barrel. The contract climbed 79 cents to $78.86 on Tuesday.

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S&P Global Platts data showed that the spread between the front-month WTI swap and same-month Dubai crude swap tumbled to minus $7.74 early last month, but the discount has narrowed to $2.96/b last Friday.

United States crude futures rose to settle at high of 74.70 dollars. "You're seeing some at $70, but we could go down to $64, where we took off from". Is it big buyers of Iranian crude?

Prospects of USA sanctions on crude exports from Iran, the world's fifth-biggest oil producer, has helped push oil prices up in recent weeks, with both crude contracts trading near 3-1/2-year highs until Wednesday.

The US says it wants to reduce oil exports from Iran, the world's fifth-biggest producer, to zero by November, which would oblige other big producers to pump more.

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India is an obvious possibility-its imports and demand are surging, and it may be willing to replace at least part of its Iranian oil imports out of fear that its companies and the sovereign could lose access to the US financial system should it continue to buy Iran's oil.

September-loading cargoes are set to be the last to head for Japan if the Asian nation doesn't receive an exemption from the United States, people with knowledge of the matter said. The outage in Libya had helped drive up oil prices over the past few weeks, fueling speculation that Saudi Arabia would need to burn through much of its spare capacity in order to keep the market well-supplied.

Saudi Arabia said that it pumped almost 10.5 million barrels per day last month, compared with 10 million in May. Royal Dutch Shell Plc. shut a North Sea field and workers threatened to escalate labor action at the weekend.

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