Oil prices fell on Thursday after a massive increase in US gasoline inventories signaled a shrinking demand in the world’s largest oil-consuming country.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $80.06 per barrel at 1223 GMT with a 0.92% fall after closing the previous session at $80.80 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at $77.11 per barrel at the same time for a 0.95% loss after it ended the previous session at $77.85 a barrel.
The downward price movement of Brent came after the benchmark rose to $81.50 a barrel during the previous session after a surprise rise in US gasoline stocks.
US gasoline inventories increased by 10.1 million barrels during the week ending Dec. 31, posting the biggest one-week surge since April 2020.
Helping to cap further price declines, crude oil inventories fell by 2.1 million barrels to 417.9 million barrels, far below the market expectation of a 3.4 million-barrel drop.
The price slump on Thursday followed the decision made on Tuesday by the 23-members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, to extend the current plan to increase output by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) through February.
In their Joint Technical Committee (JTC) meeting on Monday, OPEC+ countries issued positive projections over the course of the pandemic with expectations that its impact would be mild and short-lived, as the world becomes better equipped to manage COVID-19 and its related challenges.
Tuesday’s decision cemented the positive outlook of the group in relieving concerns over the supply and demand balance in the market.
By Sibel Morrow