Oil prices slip ahead of inventory report

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Brent for September settlement, which expires Tuesday, fell 35 cents to US$74.62 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

"We continue to plan for oil prices in the range of $50-$65 per barrel", he said. An attack by the Houthis on two crude oil vessels in the Red Sea forced Saudi Arabia to halt oil shipments through Bab Al Mendeb strait, which saw 4.8 mbpd of crude oil shipped through it in 2016. The more-actively traded October contract was little changed at $75.51. Separately, Russia's Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, said the market remains volatile and responds to verbal interventions, adding that the market has priced in risks related to U.S. sanctions against Iran.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures (WTI) were down 6c at $70.08, after rising more than 2% in the previous session.

WTI crude for September delivery traded at US$69.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 86 cents, at 2:11 p.m. London time. Trade tensions between the United States and its economic partners are also weighing down on prices due to the potential impact on economic growth and energy demand. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries hiked production 70,000 bpd to 32.64 million bpd, a 2018 high.

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"We expect prices will largely remain range-bound in the second half of 2018 and 2019".

Energy information company Genscape, however, said that inventories at Cushing rose almost 200,000 barrels, or nearly 1%, from Tuesday to Friday last week, according to traders.

Saudi Arabia had opened the taps even before the agreement to ease the production cuts to respond to the high oil prices and supply disruptions, judging from OPEC's Monthly Oil Market Report that showed the Saudis boosted their oil production in June by more than 400,000 bpd.

The group has pledged to reduce the amount of oil output they are curtailing to offset the loss of Iranian supply as looming sanctions have already started to cut exports from OPEC's third-largest producer.

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The supply of crude oil to the global market has suffered disruptions in the Middle East.

John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital, said that "It's just this witches' brew of supportive factors from Iran to the Syncrude", referring to tensions rising in advance of the first of two deadlines next week for worldwide businesses to wind down deadlines with the Islamic republic under the US sanctions, and news that Suncor Energy may note be able to fully restore operations at its Alberta oil sands facility as quickly as initially thought. "Even though trade war worries were eased between the USA and European Union this week, they still loom large with China, weighing on prices".

Refinery crude runs USOICR=ECI rose by 195,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed, while refinery utilization rates USOIRU=ECI rose by 2.3 percentage points to 96.1 percent of total capacity.

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