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OIL traded near $68 a barrel after sliding for two consecutive sessions as rising USA inventories and higher output from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Russian Federation weighed on the market.

Oil prices tanked earlier this week when the USA government reported that US inventories rose 3.8 million barrels in the prior week, against expectations, but rose on Thursday on expectations the stockpile would soon decline again.

Saudi Arabia's production increased by 230,000 barrels a day in July to 10.65 million barrels per day.

Overall US crude oil inventories actually rose by 3.8-million barrels last week to 408.74-million barrels, the EIA data showed.

USA crude oil exports averaged 1.31 million barrels per day last week, down by 1.37 million barrels per day from the previous week.

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But a complete halt to Iranian supplies looks unlikely with Bloomberg reporting on Friday that China, Iran's biggest customer, has rejected a US request to cut imports from the OPEC member. The American Petroleum Institute (API) recently noted that crude oil barrel counts in the U.S. are back on the rise, expanding last week by over 5 million barrels, erasing several weeks of expectations for steady declines in reserve supplies.

Output by top exporter Saudi Arabia has also risen recently, to about 11-million bpd, and United States production is around that level as well.

"Oil is holding up reasonably well ... A lot of this is the risk premium priced in for Iran and when do we start seeing an impact on supply there", Patterson said.

It produced about 11.21 million barrels per day, an increase of 140,000 from a month earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the ministry's data.

"At the moment, there is a mismatch in timing, where there is increasing OPEC supply and yet we're not seeing a significant reduction in Iranian supply", Patterson said.

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Crude oil prices were mixed ahead of the start of USA trading on Friday.

The price jump earlier this summer had come about in large part because of President Donald Trump 's decision to pull the USA out of an worldwide agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program.

Worries about the possible loss of Iranian supply are being somewhat offset by concerns that global trade tensions could slow economic growth and crimp energy demand.

"It is nearly certain that China will impose additional duties on oil and refined products imported from the USA if the Trump administration implements additional tariffs on the next tranche of Chinese goods".

At the Multi Commodity Exchange, crude oil for delivery in September rose by Rs 15, or 0.33 per cent, to Rs 4,580 per barrel in a business turnover of 16 lots.

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