Brent crude firm on drop in US oil inventories, Iran threat

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On the US's official day of independence (July 4), the President repeated a threat that OPEC nations should lower their oil prices in return for the security support they receive from the US. If anything, they are driving prices higher as the USA defends many of their members for very little $'s.

The US Energy Information Administration informed that commercial crude oil inventories increased by 1.2 million barrels last week.

Brent oil rose on Wednesday, driven higher by a threat from an Iranian commander and a drop in US crude inventories for the second week in a row.

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said Saudi Arabia had agreed to increase oil output by up to 2 million barrels, an assertion that the White House rowed back on in a subsequent statement.

OPEC agreed with Russian Federation and other oil-producing allies last month to raise output from July, with Saudi Arabia pledging a "measurable" supply boost but giving no specific numbers.

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that OPEC must "REDUCE PRICING NOW!"

"Investors are cautious since no one knows to what extent the Iranian sanctions will impact the market, and disruptions globally are taking supplies out faster than expected", said Will Yun, a commodities analyst at Hyundai Futures in Seoul.

"On the bearish side both Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation are living up to their promise to increase output", said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

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However, it is unclear how seriously to take Trump's claim of success. "We will be in uncharted territory". That agreement sought to curb Tehran's nuclear capabilities in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions.

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Oil was mixed on Thursday, with USA crude slipping and Brent futures little changed after data showed an unexpected build in U.S. crude oil stockpiles. United States crude slipped 2 cents to $72.92.

"But some political measures and instabilities spark concerns in the oil market and increase its price, including Trump's insulting order to some OPEC members", Zanganeh said. "This is a response to the US sanctions that are squeezing them".

Meanwhile, the market continued to watch rising USA crude output, with this week's oil drilling rig count data, an indicator of future production, due at 1 p.m.

The U.S. Navy stands ready to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Central Command said. Iran insists that production limits OPEC set in late 2016 still apply, and that any countries who increase beyond these levels are undermining the unity of the organization.

Ardebili said Iran is also on the "two-way street" as a member of OPEC. "We also expect Venezuelan production to decline a further 150,000 bbl/d towards year-end, with risks still skewed to the downside", Bjørnar Tonhaugen, vice president of oil market research at Rystad Energy, said.

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday their forces were ready to implement Iran's threat to block the Strait of Hormuz and that if Iran can not sell its oil under the US pressure, no other regional country will be allowed to.

Tehran blames rising prices on U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran and Venezuela, founding members of the cartel.