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Crude oil futures lower as US, Saudi poised to fill Iran's supply void

Singapore — Crude oil futures slid during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday amid expectations that the supply void from Iran will be filled by other key crude oil producers, Saudi Arabia and the US.

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At 10:22 am Singapore time (0222 GMT), the July ICE Brent crude oil futures slipped 16 cents/b (0.20%) from Thursday's settle to $70.59/b, while the NYMEX June light sweet crude contract moved 3 cents/b (0.05%) lower to $61.78/b.

Thursday's settlements for both ICE Brent and NYMEX crude were the lowest in almost a month, according to S&P Global Platts data.

"Oil prices fell to the lowest in a month as markets saw the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia filling the gap by Iran just as sanctions waivers on Iranian oil exports expired on Thursday," UOB analysts wrote in a report on Friday.

The US last week announced it will end the Iranian sanction waivers provided to eight countries, including China, India and South Korea, when the waivers expire on May 2.

Asian refiners, which are some of the biggest buyers of Iranian crude, have already begun asking other producers for higher crude volume, analysts said.

"Asian refiners have already started asking Saudi Aramco if it can supply more crude than they are currently contracted for. This comes in light of the expected fall in Iranian crude as the waivers of previous US sanctions expire," ANZ analysts said in a report on Friday.

In addition, the buildup in US commercial crude oil stocks amid record high production continue to weigh on the market, analysts said.

US commercial crude stocks in the US grew 9.93 million barrels to 470.57 million barrels during the week ended April 26, as production edged up 100,000 b/d to a fresh all-time high 12.3 million b/d, while imports grew 265,000 b/d at a 10-week high 7.41 million b/d, according to data released from the Energy Information Administration.

"The market is also still feeling the impact of the huge increase in inventories in the US. The jump of almost 10m bbls last week was significantly higher than the market was expecting," ANZ analysts said.

Meanwhile, the US active rig count rebounded this week as operators deployed an additional 18 oil and natural gas rigs to lift the total to 1,084 in the week that ended Wednesday, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

The number of rigs targeting gas rose by nine to 224, while the oil-directed rig total increased by 11 to 857.

The official data on last week's US oil and gas rig count from Baker Hughes will be released later Friday.

As of 0222 GMT, the US Dollar Index was 0.04% lower at 97.545.

--Ada Taib,

--Edited by Nurul Darni,