Oil prices fell on Wednesday, with US futures dipping below $70 a barrel for the first time in a month, after USA stockpiles rose by 6.5 million barrels, nearly triple what analysts had forecast, while exports dropped.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 15c, or 0.2%, at $72.07 a barrel by 2.55am GMT on Wednesday, having settled up 14c.
The rise, reported by the US Energy Information Administration was nearly triple what analysts had forecast and further eased prices, which had hit four-year highs of $86.74 earlier this month.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 1 million barrels per day.
USA crude inventories fell by 2.1 million barrels last week, compared with analyst expectations for a build of 2.2 million barrels, American Petroleum Institute data showed after Tuesday's settlement.
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It's not yet clear to what extent, if any, China will curb shipments of Iranian crude due to US sanctions.
Hedge funds had already positioned to take profits after the September rally even before Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation announced that they had been boosting production, and before the global markets sell-off last week that spread to commodities.
The United States announced new sanctions after withdrawing from a nuclear deal with Iran in May.
"The market is reacting to the unexpected decline as inventories tend to rise at this time of year", said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo, adding that anxieties about the outlook for the global economy were capping gains.
The oil market, however, is now prone to paying more attention to geopolitics than to fundamentals.
While there are many factors that could influence global oil prices, Saudi Arabia and other major producers will continue to act to cushion the market from oil price shocks, Falih said at the India Energy Forum here.
India plans to build two strategic storage facilities to hold 6.5 million tonnes of oil costing around 110 billion Rupees ($1.6 billion) through a joint partnership between an Indian state firm and private company.