Brent crude prices were down 16 cents, or 0.2%, at $80.92 a barrel by 1306 GMT, after touching a session low of $79.08. WTI crude futures fell 30 cents, or 0.4%, to $77.13 a barrel, having hit a session low of $74.96.
Both contracts fell about 2% on Wednesday.
“The crude market might be less tight should the United States tap the strategic crude reserves and if Russia manages to send more natural gas to Europe, this might result in less substitution from natural gas to crude,” said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Wednesday that the administration is considering tapping the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to cool a surge in gasoline prices, the Financial Times reported. read more
Granholm also did not rule out a ban on crude exports, which was lifted in 2015.
Goldman Sachs said a likely SPR release, which could be up to 60 million barrels, only posed a $3 downside risk to its $90/bbl year-end Brent price forecast.
A larger-than-expected rise in U.S. crude inventories last week also weighed on prices.
Stocks rose by 2.3 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said, against expectations for a modest dip of 418,000 barrels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia was boosting gas supplies to Europe, including via Ukraine, in response to the energy crunch and stands ready to stabilize the market amid surging prices.
Such a move could help cool off record high gas prices.
Analysts say as winter approaches those gas prices could have an impact on the already tight crude market as some users switch to oil. read more
OPEC+’s decision was partly driven by concern that demand and prices could weaken, sources close to the group told Reuters. read more
(This story corrects to show U.S. stocks rose, not fell in paragraph 8)