Oil prices eased on Friday as Russia hinted it may gradually increase output, after having withheld supplies in concert with producer cartel OPEC since 2017, Reuters has said.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $78.69 per barrel at 0208 GMT, down 10 cents from their last close, and more than 2.2 percent below the $80.50 November 2014 high they reached on May 17. Brent broke through $80 for the first time in more than three years earlier in May.U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $70.62 a barrel, down 9 cents from their last settlement.
“Oil prices are now starting to drift a little,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader, adding that this was due to OPEC’s and Russia’s “moves toward an increase in production at the June meeting”.
The Middle East dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as a group of non-OPEC producers led by Russia started withholding output in 2017 to tighten the market and prop up prices.
But Russia, in particular, has been floating a potential end to the production cuts, with energy minister Alexander Novak saying on Thursday that restrictions on oil production could be eased “softly” if OPEC and non-OPEC countries see the oil market balancing in June.