“Clearly, PDVSA has absolutely no incentive to sell a single barrel to the U.S. if they cannot access the money,” Wittner said.

Related: Oil ETFs Maintain Momentum on Supply Outlook

Further supporting oil prices Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration issued a bullish weekly report on U.S. inventories after it revealed crude stockpiles rose by less than 1 million barrels last week, compared to expectations of a 3.1 million-barrel rise. Gasoline inventories also unexpectedly dipped by 2.2 million barrels in their the first decline since mid November as refining activity slowed by 2.8 percentage points to 90.1% capacity utilization rate.

“This plunge in refining activity, a seasonal trend as we dive into maintenance, has yielded the first weekly drop in gasoline inventories in nine attempts,” Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, told the WSJ.

For more information on the energy sector, visit our energy category.

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