US oil prices stabilised on Friday, buoyed by a fall in U.S. crude oil inventories, but sentiment remained weak as producer group OPEC postponed a final decision on output cuts, awaiting support from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.61 per barrel at 0037 GMT, 12 cents above their last close.
WTI was supported by drop in U.S. commercial crude inventories, which fell by 7.3 million barrels in the week to Nov. 30, to 443.16 million barrels. International Brent crude oil futures had yet to trade.
The stabilising prices came after crude slumped by almost 3 percent the previous day, with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ending a meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday without announcing a decision to cut crude supply, instead preparing to debate the matter on Friday.
Analysts still expect some form of supply reduction to be decided. “We are beginning to witness the outline of the next iteration of production cuts, with OPEC conforming to cut its own production by around 1 million barrels per day, with the cartel lobbying non-OPEC members to contribute more,” Japan’s MUFG bank said in a note.
Oil producers have been hit by a 30-percent plunge in crude prices since October as supply surges just as the demand outlook weakens amid a global economic slowdown.
Oil output from the world’s biggest producers – OPEC, Russia and the United States – has increased by 3.3 million bpd since the end of 2017, to 56.38 million bpd, meeting almost 60 percent of global consumption. The increase alone is equivalent to the output of major OPEC producer the United Arab Emirates.