London: Crude oil was little changed in New York on 5 April after Iran freed 15 British navy personnel, easing concern that supplies of crude from West Asia would be disrupted.
In the US, petrol stockpiles dropped more than expected last week as demand rose to a 15-week high and production and imports fell before the peak driving season, the department of energy said.
“We could say that the Iranian issue pushed the price up by $7 (Rs301) or $8 a barrel,” said John Hall, the managing director of John Hall Associates Ltd. “In the background, we also have the pressure from the petrol market in the US.”
Crude oil for May delivery was at $64.60 a barrel, up 22 cents, in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 9:38am in London. On 4 April, the contract dropped $1.20 in two minutes after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the British captives would be released.
US petrol stockpiles tumbled 5.03 million barrels to 205.2 million last week, 2.6% lower than a year earlier, the energy department said on 4 April. A drop of 150,000 barrels was expected, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Supplies fell 9.7% in the past eight weeks.
Brent crude oil for May settlement rose 41 cents to $68.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the ICE Futures exchange at 9:39am in London.
The UK sailors and mariners left Iran on a British Airways flight, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said. Flight 6634 from Tehran to Heathrow was scheduled to arrive at 12:05pm London time, British Airways said on its website.
The UK said the two boats seized by Iran were 1.7 nautical miles (3.1 kilometers) inside Iraqi waters in the Shatt al-Arab waterway when they were captured. Iran said the vessels were half a kilometer inside Iranian waters. It broadcast the captives on state television giving purported apologies for trespassing.
Almost a quarter of the world’s oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway between Iran and Oman at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Iran is the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries which is cutting production to support prices.
Petrol for May delivery gained 1.01 cents to $2.1155 a gallon in after-hours trading in New York at 9:36am London time. The contract jumped 4.4% to $2.1054 on Wednesday, the biggest one-day gain since 30 January.
Refiners used 87% of their capacity in the week to 30 March, unchanged from the week before, and petrol production fell for the first time in four weeks, according the US department of energy. Imports of petrol fell 11% to 1.01 million barrels a day from the week before, the department said. Average demand the past four weeks was 2.2% higher than a year earlier, the department said.
Crude-oil supplies surged 4.31 million barrels to 332.7 million barrels last week, the report showed. A gain of 500,000 barrels was expected, according to the Bloomberg survey.