Oil prices were heading Friday for a mixed weekly close as the global oil market awaits a deeper production cut from OPEC next month, but refinery maintenance season keeps demand low and causes a stock buildup.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $60.17 per barrel at 1155 GMT on Friday, heading for a weekly gain of 1.5% after it started Monday at $59.30 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate, on the other hand, was at $54.52 a barrel at the same time, posting a 0.7% loss for the week, after opening Monday at $54.90 per barrel.
OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said Tuesday OPEC and its allies, dubbed as OPEC+, are committed to maintain 'relative stability' in the global oil market beyond 2020.
'All the leading producers are committed to this,' Barkindo said, pointing out to OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC leader Russia, during his speech at the third India Energy Forum by CERAWeek.
The secretary general said oil producing nations of OPEC+ are determined not to allow a downturn in oil prices, adding 'they will do whatever is possible within their powers to ensure that this relative stability is sustained beyond 2020.'
OPEC implementing a deeper production cut would lower the glut of supply in the global oil market and push crude prices higher.
However, the refinery maintenance season, when refiners close down their plants for repairs during fall or spring, keeps demand low, causes an increase in crude inventories, and push crude oil prices down.
Crude oil inventories in U.S. jumped by 9.3 million barrels, or 2.2% from the previous week, to reach 434.9 million barrels for the week ending Oct. 11, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released on Thursday.
Refinery utilization also came low at 83.1% for the week ending Oct. 11, the EIA data showed.
As comparison, refinery utilization during summer, when crude oil demand of refiners is much higher due to driving season, usually averages above 95%.
By Ovunc Kutlu