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From a fundamental perspective, the price is benefiting from data suggesting that supplies from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries fell by the most in two years last month, with Saudi Arabia leading the way.

"The price has yet to react in any noticeable way", he said.

In addition to the above observations, the report included a discussion on US-China trade tensions and Russian and US crude oil production forecasts.

Meanwhile, US sanctions against Venezuela's oil industry are expected to freeze sales proceeds of Venezuelan crude exports to the United States.

The oil price came under pressure earlier in the day following weekly data from the US Energy Information Administration on Wednesday that showed an unwelcome increase in stocks of crude oil. The contract increased 35 cents to $54.01 on Wednesday.

Crude oil prices hit a 2019 high on Monday.

US crude inventories rose by 2.5 million barrels last week and gasoline stocks also increased, the American Petroleum Institute said.

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When adding in all imports and exports of crude oil and petroleum products, the United States imported a net 1.9 million barrels per day last week, seeing a growth of 177,000 barrels from the January 19-25 week.

"Despite several forays in WTI above our prior resistance of $55, the market continues to draft back down largely under the pressure of this week's stronger dollar", Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.

U.S. distillate stocks fell by 2.3 million barrels, while inventories of other refined fuels dropped by 2.9 million barrels.

US crude futures were down 75 cents, or 1.39 percent, at $53.26.

The fund would receive income accrued by state-run oil firm PDVSA's U.S. unit Citgo Petroleum Corp since last month, when U.S. President Donald Trump recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate head of state, Carlos Paparoni said in an interview.

"We expect the oil price to rise in the first-half of 2019 on tightening supply conditions and decline in the second-half on weakening economic activity and an increase in USA crude exports to global markets", said French bank BNP Paribas.

Traders are watching how long a partial closure of the Keystone oil pipeline would last after the discovery of a possible leak in the area of St. Louis Missouri. The surge comes shortly after Washington slapped sanctions on the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. Both lines carry Canadian crude to the U.S.


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