Oil prices steady after falling on signs U.S. may release more reserves

A worker looks at a pump jack at an oil field Buzovyazovskoye owned by Bashneft company north from Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia, July 11, 2015. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Oil prices were steady on Thursday after falling in the previous session on concerns rising inflation in the United States may prompt the government to release more strategic crude stockpiles to drive down prices. 

Brent crude gained 21 cents to $82.85 a barrel at 0543 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 19 cents to $81.53.

On Wednesday, Brent crude futures fell by 2.5% and WTI futures dropped by 3.3% after reports that U.S. inflation increased at the fastest rate in 30 years pushed the dollar higher and crude inventories in the U.S. rose after the government released some strategic reserves.

“Crude prices are trying to find their footing after yesterday’s slide as runaway inflation in America is adding pressure on the Biden administration to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” Reuters cited Edward Moya, senior analyst at OANDA, as saying.

“Energy traders know that an SPR release will only deliver a very short-term drop in prices that won’t provide much relief for the American consumer,” Moya said.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he asked the National Economic Council to work to reduce energy costs and the Federal Trade Commission to push back on market manipulation in the energy sector to reverse inflation.

Some of the efforts to cut energy costs might include releasing more crude from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

U.S. crude stocks rose last week on the SPR injection while inventories of gasoline and distillates like diesel declined further, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose by 1 million barrels in the week to Nov. 5, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 2.1 million barrels.

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