Oil prices were little changed in early trade on Thursday, holding most of their gains from the previous session after another fall in US crude inventories which is seen as a sign of a tighter market. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $52.48 per barrel at 0103 GMT, down 9 cents from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $48.31 a barrel, down 10 cents. Crude futures rose more than 1 percent on Wednesday, also buoyed by potential output disruptions from a storm approaching the Gulf Coast.
Traders said that ongoing declines in US commercial crude storage levels were a sign of a gradually tightening market, although another rise in output held the market back, they said.
“Another strong drawdown in U.S. crude oil inventories should see oil prices well supported,” ANZ bank said, although it added that “there was a hint of cautiousness, with U.S. oil output continuing to push higher.”
US oil production hit 9.53 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, the highest level since July 2015 and up over 13 percent from their most recent low in mid-2016.
Despite this, U.S. crude stocks fell last week and gasoline stocks were down as well, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. Crude inventories fell by 3.3 million barrels in the week ending August 18, to 463.17 millio barrels, down 13.5 percent from their record levels last March.