Oil prices were steady today but on track for the first weekly fall in six weeks, under pressure from surging US supplies and creeping doubts over Russian support for continuing a cut in crude output.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $61.23 per barrel this morning, down three cents from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.36 a barrel, up 22 cents. Traders said strong US crude exports were lifting WTI.
Still, crude was set to fall around 2-4% for the week on worries about growth in US production and inventories, after both benchmarks touched 2015 highs last week.
Crude markets have received general support in the past months by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which together with some non-OPEC producers including Russia has been withholding production since January to tighten the market and prop up prices.
This has led to an almost 40% rise in Brent prices since June.
The deal to restrain output is due to expire in March 2018, but OPEC will meet on November 30 to discuss policy.
Analysts said more production restraint is needed to reduce the supply overhang.
Khalid al-Falih, the energy minister of Saudi Arabia, which is OPEC's de-facto leader, said yesterday that "we need to recognise that by the end of March we're not going to be at the level we want to be which is the five-year average, that means an extension of some sort."
OPEC's main obstacle in tightening the market is the US, where crude oil production hit a record of 9.65 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, meaning output has risen by almost 15% since their most recent low in the middle of 2016.