World crude oil futures rose mildly on Thursday, after U.S. distillate supplies and gasoline inventories fell sharply.
New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, rose 88 cents to 60.95 dollars per barrel. This contract closed above 60 dollars a barrel the first time this year on Wednesday.
In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude for April delivery added 1.27 dollars to 60.62 dollars per barrel.
The U.S. Department of Energy said on Thursday that its crude stockpiles rose by 3.7 million barrels to 327.6 million in the week ending Feb. 16. Domestic distillate supplies, including heating oil, lost 5.0 million barrels to 128.3 million. Gasoline inventories fell by 3.1 million barrels to 222.1 million barrels.
Meanwhile, the traders are concerned over possible supply halt by Iran. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that he was "deeply concerned" about Iranian nuclear issue before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is set to release a report on the issue.
Last December, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1737, imposing sanctions on Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It also set deadline, which is due on Wednesday, for Tehran to suspend its enrichment activities or face further sanctions. The IAEA board is to meet on March 6.
Iran is OPEC's No. 2 producer following Saudi Arabia, pumping 4 million barrels of crude oil and exporting 2.4 million barrels per day.