"We have kept buying USA crude since we made our first purchase of it, nearly 2 million barrels every month because we found the economics of USA crude are good", said Kim Woo-kyung, a spokeswoman at SK Innovation, which owns SK Energy. This is months after of range-bound trading during which OPEC-led supply cuts buoyed crude prices but rising USA output capped markets.
Brent crude for December LCOZ7, +0.78% rose 33 cents, or 0.6%, to $58.21 a barrel-also on track for its highest finish since late September.
US crude inventories fell 5.7 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said, exceeding analysts' expectations.
"Everyone is looking to see if the high level of (U.S.) crude oil exports will pull down inventories again", Kilduff said.
The higher prices came as Iraqi government forces captured the major Kurdish-held oil city of Kirkuk on Monday, responding to a Kurdish independence referendum.
Asian shares advanced to new highs on Monday following Wall Street's lead, while USA oil futures jumped to hover near a six-month peak as escalating tensions between the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces threatened supply.
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Asked about the conflict in Iraq between the government and separatist Kurds and the USA decision to decertify its nuclear deal with Iran, Birol said it is premature to assess the impact of these geopolitical risks on oil markets.
Crude oil inventories matter for traders watching the supply-side pressures that pushed oil prices below $30 per barrel past year fade away.
US President Donald Trump refused to confirm Iran's compliance over a nuclear deal that has left Congress 60 days to consider implementing new sanctions against the country.
While Iraq's government is clashing with Kurdish forces in the north of the OPEC nation, raising the prospect of output disruptions in the region, both sides have an incentive to keep oil flowing due to low production costs and "high revenue" available per barrel, according to Goldman Sachs.
"What has helped risk appetite this morning is that the Chinese inflation data suggests the world's second biggest economy is doing much better than people expected this time a year ago for 2017", said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets. It last stood at $7,110.5.
OPEC producers have struggled to maintain caps on their output quotas, and Iran has said it supports an extension of the current production cut deal to the end of next year. "We see Brent averaging $54 this quarter and $52.50/bbl in first-half 2018, compared with our previous forecasts of $50 and $49.50/bbl respectively", it said.