Crude prices moved lower on Thursday as tensions surrounding Syria eased, dampening hopes for supply disruption.
New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 62 cents, or about 0.9%, to $66.20 a barrel by 10:58AM ET (14:58GMT).
Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded down 80 cents, or roughly 1.1%, to $71.26 a barrel. The barrel of Brent hit an intraday high of $72.48 in overnight trading on Thursday, its highest level since late 2014.
In its monthly report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) predicted a tighter market this year and said that global demand would pick up even as it saw other producers outside the cartel raising output.
Opec indicated that its compliance with the deal to curb production hit 150%.
“We have seen an accelerated shrinkage of stocks in storage from unparalleled highs of about 400 million barrels to about 43 million above the five-year average,” Opec Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said.
Opec, Russia and several other non-Opec producers began to cut supply in January 2017. While the current agreement expires at the end of this year, Saudi Arabia, the defacto Opec leader has suggested that it could be extended into 2019. Opec meets in Vienna in June to decide on its next course of action.
Also supporting prices, concerns over Middle East tensions appeared to ease on Thursday. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that an attack on Syria could come “very soon, or not soon at all,” rowing back from a claim the previous day that military action was imminent.
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While Syria isn’t a major oil producer, the wider Middle East is the world's most important crude exporter and tension in the region raises the prospect of supply disruptions, analysts said.
Despite Thursday’s losses, the U.S. benchmark was still on track for weekly gains of around 7%.
In other energy trading, gasoline futures fell 0.8% to $2.0454 a gallon, while heating oil lost 0.94% to $2.0730 a gallon.
Natural gas futures slipped 0.1% to $2.673 per million British thermal units.
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