NEW YORK–Crude prices were slightly lower after a volatile session on Thursday, as the restart of two key Libyan oilfields and concerns about lackluster gasoline demand fed concern over whether major oil producers can alleviate the glut of global inventories.
U.S. gasoline futures led the energy complex lower in choppy trading, at one point hitting its lowest level seasonally in eight years after data on Wednesday showed inventories rose by the most in nearly three months.
“Gasoline is leading the way lower with ample stocks, lower demand compared to last year, and an increase in gas(oline) stocks on the east coast,” said Anthony Headrick of CHS Hedging.
“For the last four weeks gas demand is down 1.8 percent from last year.”
Global crude oil inventories have remained high, in part because of increased production from the United States.
Amid concerns about the persistent global oil glut the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia are in talks to extend a six-month deal to cut 1.8 million bpd into the second half of the year.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said although the oil oversupply was declining, stocks needed to fall further, in comments that pointed to an extension in cuts.
The International Energy Agency said in its latest monthly market report that oil stocks in industrialized countries stood at around 3.06 billion barrels at the end of February, some 336 million barrels above the five-year average.