Oil edged lower on Thursday but held near 2019 highs, supported by a sharp tightening of global stocks, OPEC production cuts and U.S. sanctions on key producers Iran and Venezuela.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures ended Thursday's session 25 cents lower at $59.98 per barrel, marking its highest settle since Nov. 9. WTI reached its highest intraday level since Nov. 12 earlier in the day, at $60.39.
International Brent crude oil futures were down 47 cents at $68.03 a barrel around 2:25 p.m. ET (1825 GMT), having hit their highest since Nov. 13 at $68.69 earlier in the session.
Crude prices have been pushed up by almost a third since the start of 2019 by supply cuts led by OPEC, as well as sanctions enacted against Iran and Venezuela by the United States.
The drop in production has led to a tightening in global inventories. Vienna-based consultancy JBC Energy estimated stocks had run down by a "solid" 40 million barrels since mid-January.
That followed a nearly 10-million-barrel fall in U.S. crude stocks last week, the largest drop since last July, boosted by strong export and refining demand, according to the U.S. government's Energy Information Administration.
The rapid decline in inventories comes despite many refineries undergoing seasonal maintenance work ahead of peak summer demand.
However, global trade tensions remain a worry.
"Why are oil prices not rallying through the roof? We suspect the sword of Damocles hanging over the market is currently called U.S.-Chinese trade talks," Tamas Varga, analyst at brokerage PVM, said in a note.
"Cautious bulls will become unreservedly bullish if or when an agreement is struck."
Meanwhile, OPEC's crude output slumped from a mid-2018 peak of 32.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to 30.7 million bpd in February. The U.S. sanctions are disrupting supply.