SINGAPORE – Oil prices were stable on Thursday as strong demand from China eased concerns of an ongoing fuel glut.
Brent crude futures were at $47.75 per barrel at 0357 GMT, up 1 cent from their last close.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $45.48 per barrel, down 1 cent from the previous session’s close.
China imported 212 million tonnes of crude oil, or 8.55 million barrels per day (bpd), in the first six months of the year, up 13.8 percent on the same period in 2016, customs data showed on Thursday, making China the world’s biggest crude importer ahead of the United States.
The strong demand from China eased concerns of an ongoing fuel supply overhang.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said late on Wednesday that the world would need 32.20 million bpd of crude from its members next year, down 60,000 bpd from this year, as consumers have increasing choices of supply from outside OPEC.
Meanwhile, OPEC said its output rose by 393,000 bpd in June to 32.611 million bpd. The gain was led by Nigeria and Libya.
This came despite a pledge by OPEC to curb output by about 1.2 million bpd between January this year and March 2018, while Russia and other non-OPEC producers say they will hold back half as much.
Despite the ongoing supply overhang, there are signs of a gradual reduction in the global glut.
In the United States, crude oil inventories last week dropped the most in 10 months.
Crude inventories fell 7.6 million barrels in the week to July 7, to 495.35 million barrels. The decline was the biggest since the week ended Sept. 4.
While U.S. crude inventories remain far above their five-year average, stocks have fallen 7 percent since record levels from late March.
“U.S. inventory numbers confirmed that a drawdown (of excess inventories) was in train,” ANZ bank said.