Oil prices edged up on Thursday to extend gains into a third straight session, as tensions in the Middle East stoked fears of potential disruptions to supply.
Brent crude futures were at $72.04 a barrel, up 27 cents, or 0.4 per cent, from their last close. Brent closed up 0.7 per cent on Wednesday.
Also, the US West Texas Intermediate, WTI, crude futures were at $62.27 per barrel, up 25 cents, or 0.4 per cent, from their previous settlement. WTI closed up 0.4 per cent in the previous session.
Analysts said oil was drawing support from heightened tensions in the Middle East, with helicopters carrying US staff from the American embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday out of apparent concern about perceived threats from Iran.
“(Middle East tensions have intensified), with the US ready to apply pressure in Tehran and evacuating its embassy in Iraq due to security concerns,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst, OANDA.
However, a surprise increase in US stockpiles was dragging on prices.
US crude inventories rose unexpectedly last week to their highest since September 2017, while gasoline stockpiles decreased more than forecast, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.
Crude stocks swelled by 5.4 million barrels, surprising analysts who had expected a decrease of 800,000 barrels.