Oil prices eased on Thursday, even though a weakening in U.S. inventories, current supply cuts from OPEC and its partners, and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran all limited losses.

Brent crude futures were at $71.49 a barrel, dropped 13 cents from their last close and more away from Wednesday's five-month high of $72.27 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.71 per barrel, down 5 cents.

Both contracts traded marginally higher prior in the day.

U.S. crude inventories tumbled by 1.4 million barrels in the week to April 12, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed on Wednesday.

The drop in oil prices came "in spite of a small w-o-w (week on week) draw on U.S. crude inventories as observed in the latest EIA data, partly since imports slumped back toward the 6 million barrel per day mark while implied crude supply numbers remain firm," Vienna-based consultancy JBC Energy said.

Fuel stocks plunged by 1.2 million barrels and distillate stocks, which include diesel and heating oil, dropped by 362,000 barrels, the EIA data showed.

Prices have been supported this year by a contract reached by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners, including Russia, to limit their oil yield by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd).


Worldwide supply has been tightened more by U.S. sanctions on OPEC members Venezuela and Iran.

Iran's crude exports have fell in April to their lowest everyday level this year, tanker data showed and manufacturing sources said, suggesting a decrease in consumer interest ahead of anticipated more pressure from Washington.

Indian refiners are turning to other OPEC members, Mexico and the United States to make up for any loss of Iranian oil.

Spain's Repsol has postponed its exchanges of refined products for crude with Venezuela's state-run oil firm PDVSA, folks familiar with the issue said, as U.S. officers weigh penalties for foreign companies doing business with Venezuela.

Increasing U.S. oil production and worries over the U.S.- China trade argument are keeping costs in check.

U.S. crude oil yield from seven most important shale formations was anticipated to increase by about 80,000 bpd in May to a record 8.46 million bpd, the EIA said in its monthly report on Monday.

Rising U.S. production has filled some of the gap in supplies, though not entirely of the lost production can be instantly replaced by U.S. shale oil because of refinery configurations.

Know more about the latest market events here at FSMNews. Subscribe now to FSMNews and get your round the clock information on forex, commodities, stock markets, technology, economy and a lot more.