The Trump administration's sanctions on Iran kick in on November 4th, after which any countries purchasing oil from Iran could be subject to sanctions as well.
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman insisted the kingdom is fulfilling promises to make up for lost Iranian crude supplies, Bloomberg reported. Accordingly, during the January to August period of this year, Korea's imports of USA crude oil rose more than five-fold to 26.87 million barrels from a year before.
In the USA, crude inventories are estimated to have increased 1.5 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey of 13 analysts.
That might not be enough to outweigh supply concerns but the scope for further strong price gains near-term seems limited.
Both crude benchmarks retreated on Thursday following news of a rise in USA oil inventories and after Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation said they would raise output to at least partly make up for expected disruptions from Iran.
South Korea's imports of USA crude oil has eclipsed those of Iranian crude oil for the first time.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures ended Thursday's session down $2.08, or 2.7%, at $74.33 a barrel, after hitting $76.90/Bbl Wednesday, the highest level since November 2014.
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WTI's weekly gain was about 1.3 per cent; Brent's was around 1.4 per cent.
Saudi Arabia also raised production in September, Novak told Business FM.
"They're taking a pause after yesterday's sell-off", said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. However, the market has gone from strength to strength due to the expected severity of the Iran sanctions and output woes elsewhere, notably in Venezuela.
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However, Iran's OPEC Governor Hossein Kazempour Ardabili says the USA president has apparently been duped by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, Opec's largest producer, is now pumping about 10.7 million barrels per day, Falih told reporters in Moscow, just shy of the record set in November 2016.
"One of the things I think that's important, whether it's for Iraq or India or anyone else - particularly that's been a purchaser of Iranian oil - we've gone to really extra lengths to try and find substitute sellers of oil so that there would be alternative supplies at market rates", Bolton said.
"This is created in financial markets", he said.