Oil prices stuck around $ 80 a barrel on Thursday when a decision by the US government to release up to 50 million barrels of strategic reserves in an attempt to push down gas prices faltered.
And some officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) warned that the release of reserves from major oil-consuming nations would only increase the abundance forecast in the first half of next year.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, was broadly stable on Thursday at $ 81 per barrel. barrel. Prices had dropped to $ 79 on the news of the US release, but recovered quickly thereafter. West Texas Intermediate fell 0.2% to $ 78.2 per share. barrel.
Instead, markets appeared to be waiting for the OPEC meeting scheduled for December 2, when the organization and its allies – such as Russia – will decide whether to keep the moderate increase in production they agreed on earlier this year.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s leading member, as well as Russia are considering a break in the gradual increase – by 400,000 barrels a month – to help prevent a price drop if production actually exceeds demand at some point next time. year.
OPEC is divided on the issue – with some members, such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, eager to continue to increase production.
Complicating matters, both for oil producers and consumers, is the continuing uncertainty about the economic consequences of another wave of the pandemic – as is currently being witnessed in Europe.
If it leads to more severe restrictions or lockdowns than those currently envisaged, the impact on economic activity could be significant, lowering demand for oil. That is the cloud that OPEC must try to see through at its meeting next week.