Crude oil prices have increased due to an unexpected fall in US inventories.

Brent crude earlier traded as low as $36.28 a barrel, while the front-month US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $36.47 per barrel, up 33 cents, Reuters reported.

Petroleum imports in the country have fallen from almost 14 million barrels per day (bpd) since 2010 to around nine million bpd, government data revealed.

Following a decline in shale production and the lifting of a 40-year crude export ban by the US Government, the market is expected to tighten.

The oil export ban was imposed in 1975 when the country was reeling from the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo that led to a rise in gasoline prices.

At the moment, no immediate large-scale exports are expected from the country, but some oil may flow from the US into the markets worldwide in 2016.

Traders are watching for official inventory data to be published later on Wednesday.

Goldman told the news agency that crude prices may need to fall to $20 per barrel to force closures and bring production back to normal in line with demand.