Oil prices are flat on Thursday after US crude inventories increased less than expected, with investors looking for more clarity on supply drivers, including the OPEC+ meeting and the EU’s impending ban on Russian refining products.
Brent crude futures dipped 4 cents, or 0.1%, at 0400 GMT to $86.08 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 18 cents, or 0.2%, to $80.33.
The market needs more clarity on the upcoming EU embargo on Russian refined products and the subsequent change in trade flows as OPEC+ prepares for the next meeting.
The impending EU embargo on Russian refined products remains a major concern for the market and widespread handovers are expected.
Oil prices were little changed after data showed a less-than-expected increase in US crude inventories.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that crude oil inventories rose 533,000 barrels to 448.5 million barrels in the week ended January 20.
That was substantially short of forecasts for a 1 million barrel rise, though crude stocks are at their highest since June 2021, the EIA said.
The increase in inventories limited price increases as it reflected softer fuel demand alongside broader concerns about a slowing global economy.
According to a survey, global economic growth is projected to barely rise above 2% this year, contradicting the widespread optimism in the markets since the start of the year.
Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will likely confirm the group’s current production levels at their meeting on February 1, according to OPEC+ sources.