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Opec's de facto leader Saudi Arabia, which has been under pressure from US President Donald Trump to pump more and ease prices, said exports this month will be "roughly equal" to June, and they will drop by 100,000 barrels a day in August.

Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude prices for August delivery soared 0.13 per cent to trade at Dollars 68.33 a barrel while Brent crude was up 0.28 per cent at USD 72.78 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent oil was little changed at $72.57 a barrel by 1210 GMT.

South Korean petrochemical companies are readying to reduce crude oil imports from Iran to counter possible risks from the United States' decision to re-impose economic sanctions on the Middle Eastern country. It rejected as "without basis" any concerns that the kingdom was moving to oversupply world markets. India, the world's fastest growing oil user, could bridge the surplus by up to $4 billion through oil imports alone, government officials said in April.

Saudi Arabia moved on Thursday to allay fears of oversupply.

However, they can only alter their yield by a few percent, particularly because refiners are flush with light USA crude that produces gasoline-friendly naphtha, Rogers said.

Crude prices pulled back from highs earlier in the session as traders cashed in on profits, said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in NY.

"Refinery utilization rates in the United States have been kept at nearly full capacity and it will gradually fall with planned maintenance, which will lead to a build-up in overall crude stockpiles, while gasoline and distillate inventories shrink", Lim Jaekyun, a commodities analyst at KB Securities, said by phone in Seoul.

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"We expect a fairly rapid lengthening in the (global oil supply) balance", Reid added.

"This is a market where the increase in GCC and Russian supplies has come at a time when the refinery bid is lacking", said Amrita Sen, Energy Aspects' chief oil analyst.

U.S. crude oil inventories increased in the week ending July 13, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on Wednesday.

Second, Trump can, as he recently did, ask Saudi Arabia to increase its crude production.

The US and her allies aren't helping because low oil prices mean fracking to produce shale oil has suddenly become profitable and weaning America off dependence on OPEC.

News Wednesday of strong USA demand for gasoline and distillates gave the price only a brief boost. The United States has added almost 1 million bpd in production since November, thanks to rapid increases in shale drilling.

USA drillers this week cut five oil rigs, the most since March, according to a Baker Hughes report, with the rate of growth slowing over the past month with recent declines in crude prices.