Oil prices rise past 72 dollars in Asian trade

Over the past four weeks, US demand for gasoline has been running 0.9 percent higher than a year ago, the Department of Energy reported last week.

The department’s weekly snapshot of oil inventories was due later Wednesday. High demand has been mirrored in China, where recent Chinese customs data showed oil demand growth jumped 13.5 percent in May as refiners boosted output and curbed exports ahead of a domestic price increase.

China’s demand for all commodities "continues to exceed expectations," Phil Flynn of Alaron said.

A US refinery disruption around New Orleans also supported prices.

The market remained edgy on tensions between Iran, the world’s fourth biggest crude producer, and the West because of an approaching deadline over its disputed nuclear program.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday he saw "no use" in negotiating with the United States over its nuclear program and signalled again that Tehran was unwilling to freeze sensitive uranium enrichment work.

The US administration said it did not view the comments as Iran’s final word on the issue and would wait for a formal response to an offer from Washington and other world powers.