Oil prices rose on Monday after Saudi crude production registered a surprising dip in July and as American shale drilling appeared to plateau.
While South Korea has halted imports from Iran and reports in India indicate it may also bow to the USA campaign, Washington's entreaties to Beijing have proved fruitless, two unnamed officials told Bloomberg.
WTI settled down 47 cents to $68.49 per barrel, and Brent fell 24 cents to $73.21 per barrel, causing Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, to remark, "It's a jittery feel here, as long as we have Iranian sanctions uncertainty and tariff uncertainty, and it doesn't take much to spark a significant swing one way or the other".
The U.S. has been unable to persuade China to cut Iranian oil imports, according to two officials familiar with the negotiations, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump's efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic after his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord.
What's next for Iran oil?
Elsewhere, Russian oil output rose by 150,000 barrels per day in July from a month earlier, to 11.21 million barrels per day (Mmbpd), energy ministry data showed Thursday.
Other oil producing countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have vowed to increase production to cover the loss of Iranian oil.
The surge in the country's state refiners' intake ahead of USA sanctions was reported to be the main driver for this growth in the mentioned month.
Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended oil shipments there on July 26 after attacks on two big oil tankers by Houthis.
The cutback comes despite promises from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih that key OPEC members and their allies would add about 1 million barrels of supply, doing "whatever is necessary to keep the market in balance".
Sinopec's trading unit, Unipec, has not booked new purchases of USA crude oil at least until October, one of Reuters' sources said.
Meanwhile, Unipec, Sinopec trading unit, has stopped crude import from the United States due to increasing trading dispute between Wahington and Beijing, as confirmed by sources close to both sides.
That would ease concerns that China would work to undermine US efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic by purchasing excess oil.
A year ago the U.S. exported just 7.7mt of crude oil to China, which accounted for just 1.8% of China's total crude oil imports of 420mt.
Meanwhile, price of the Brent Crude for October 2018 shipment drops by United States dollars 0.24 to a level of USD 73.21 per barrel at the London ICE Future Exchange. While the Trump administration has said it wants to cut Iranian oil exports to zero by November 4, most analysts viewed that target as unlikely.