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Crude oil prices have increased after closure of short positions by traders ahead of Brent‘s expiry next week and due to strong demand for gasoline in the US.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 rose 15 cents and traded at $35.44 per barrel, while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 edged-up 26 cents at $33.33 a barrel, Reuters reported.

Demand for gasoline increased due to a fall in inventories last week for the first time since November 2015.

"The idea that gasoline demand is actually rising suggests that perhaps the lower prices of crude are actually prompting a greater usage of this product."

National Australia Bank oil analyst Vyanne Lai told the news agency: "The idea that gasoline demand is actually rising suggests that perhaps the lower prices of crude are actually prompting a greater usage of this product (gasoline)."

Following the lifting of international sanctions in January, Iran expects to increase its crude exports by one million barrels per day within 2017.

This will add to a glut of one million to two million barrels of crude.

Due to these sanctions exports of Iran reduced by more than half from a pre-sanctions peak of almost three million barrels per day during 2011.

OPEC Secretariat calculations revealed that the price of OPEC basket of 13 crudes stood at $29.19 a barrel on Thursday, compared with $28.30 on Wednesday.


Image: Iran expects to increase its crude exports by one million barrels per day within 2017. Photo: courtesy of anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.