By Florence Tan
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices slid more than 1% on Friday on concerns that a global supply surplus could swell in the first quarter following a coordinated release of crude reserves among major consumers, led by the United States.
futures extended declines for a third session, falling 96 cents, or 1.2%, to $81.26 a barrel by 0130 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down $1.35, or 1.7%, at $77.04 a barrel. There was no settlement for WTI on Thursday because of Thanksgiving holiday.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced plans on Tuesday to release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves in coordination with other large consuming nations, including China, India and Japan, to try to cool prices.
Such a release is likely to swell supplies in coming months, an OPEC source said, according to the findings of a panel of experts that advises ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The Economic Commission Board (ECB) expects a 400,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) surplus in December, expanding to 2.3 million bpd in January and 3.7 million bpd in February if consumer nations go ahead with the release, the OPEC source said.
Forecasts of rising surplus oil clouds the outlook of the meeting between OPEC and allies, a group known as OPEC+, on Dec. 2 to decide on immediate production. The group is to decide whether it will continue raising output by 400,000 bpd in January.
Still, the benchmark contracts are set to post their first weekly gain in nearly a month as the overall volume of the crude reserve release estimated at 70 million to 80 million barrels was smaller than market participants expected.
“Since the volume is small, I think it is aimed at easing tightness in supply, rather than having a big impact on oil markets,” Tsutomu Sugimori, president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), told reporters late on Thursday.
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