Oil futures edged up on Thursday as a drop in crude exports from OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, and a draw in U.S. drilling rigs and oil inventories supported prices.
Brent crude futures settled at $71.97 a barrel, up 35 cents from their last close and near Wednesday’s five-month high of $72.27. Brent saw a weekly gain of 0.6 percent, marking the fourth consecutive weekly rise for the international benchmark.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $64.00 a barrel, up 24.00 cents. U.S. futures gained just under 0.2 percent for the week, its seventh weekly gain in a row.
Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports fell by 277,000 barrels to just under 7 million bpd in February from the month before, according to data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI).
U.S. crude, gasoline and distillate inventories dropped this week, with crude posting an unexpected drawdown, the first in four weeks, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed on Wednesday.
“I think it’s pretty clear that tightening supplies and receding fears of demand growth is a boost to the market to these five month highs,” said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.