Brent crude premium to WTI lures record USA flows

The average price of Oman oil for November delivery stabilised at $54.02

But with USA crude oil inventories still less than 20 percent below a record 535.5 million barrels, the strength of Brent against WTI may ensure that exports stay strong for some time to come.

Markets have been supported by comments from Saudi Arabia's energy minister earlier this week reiterating the kingdom's determination to end a global supply glut that has weighed on prices for more than three years.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI) ended the session up $1.26, or 2.4 percent, at $53.90 after reaching a session peak of $53.98 a barrel, the highest since early March.

Crude Oil prices struggled for direction as investors weighed the recent uptick in USA crude supplies and production against growing expectations that Opec would extend its supply-cut agreement amid bullish comments from Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Brent oil rose 1 percent on Tuesday after top exporter Saudi Arabia said it was determined to end a supply glut, while prices also drew support from forecasts of a further drop in USA crude inventories as well as nervousness over tensions in Iraqi Kurdistan. Production rebounded from a falloff due to Hurricane Nate, and imports rose.

The deep draw in gasoline inventories came even as refining output rose, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The spread, or difference, between Brent and WTI means USA oil is more competitive against other benchmarks in some markets.

The EIA data showed gasoline and distillate inventories both fell by more than 5 million barrels, and refinery utilization rates rose 3.3 percentage points.

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"Demand has been a little stronger than some people might have anticipated as we pushed out of the driving season, and that's where today's strength is coming from", said Gene McGillian, manager of research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn.

Crude oil prices standing more or less still in early Thursday trading, with signs pointing to a make-or-break price point for USA oil production.

While other producers cut output, US production rebounded to 9.5 million bpd in the latest week.

Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation both declared their support for extending a global deal to cut oil supplies for another nine months, an OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)'s official said on Friday, according to Reuters.

"Price volatility in the oil market is expected to persist in the run-up to the November Opec meeting".

Disruptions to exports from Iraq, OPEC's second-largest producer, have supported oil.

OPEC and its non-OPEC partners have pledged to reduce production by around 1.8 million barrels per day until the end of March 2018 to ease a global supply glut.

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