Oil prices increased on Wednesday ahead of the meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) where major producers are set to decide the production volume for January.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $71.54 per barrel at 0616 GMT for a 3.3% increase after closing the previous session at $69.23 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $68.13 per barrel at the same time for a 2.9% rise after trade ended at $66.18 a barrel in the previous session.
Markets are focused on the OPEC+ ministerial meeting on Thursday. Experts project a possible delay in the current incremental easing of the group's production cut policy for January due to demand worries from the new COVID-19 variant. This potential delay, along with the US-led strategic reserve sale move, is pushing prices higher.
However, some OPEC+ members believe there is no need to change the OPEC+ production policy, including Russia's Deputy Prime Minister who said there is no need for immediate action to balance the oil market.
If no change is made to the existing deal, then around 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) will be produced and distributed.
Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute (API) announced late Tuesday its estimate of a fall of 747,000 barrels of US crude oil inventories relative to the market expectation of a 1.67 million-barrel drop.
The projection of a less-than-expected inventory fall added to the negative market sentiment, putting downward pressure on prices. Investors are now awaiting inventory data from the Energy Information Administration due later on Wednesday.
By Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu