Oil prices steadied today after a week of volatile trading, shedding early gains on profit-taking ahead of the New Year holiday and pressured by concerns of oversupply and faltering global economic growth.
Brent crude futures were down 15 cents to $52.01 a barrel this evening, having earlier risen to $53.80 a barrel.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 15 cents to $44.76 a barrel, after reaching $46.22 a barrel earlier.
Both benchmarks are set for their third week of losses in a row, with Brent on track to drop about 3.4% and WTI set to fall nearly 2%.
Oil prices fell to their lowest levels in a year and a half this week and are down more than 20% for the year, depressed by rising supply and concerns about the health of the global economy.
US crude inventories were down by 46,000 barrels in the week to December 21, the Energy Information Administration said today.
Gasoline stocks rose by 3 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a gain of 28,000 barrels.
The US has emerged as the world's biggest crude producer this year, pumping 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd), more than both Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Oil production has been at or near record highs in the three countries.
Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, agreed to cut output by 1.2 million bpd, or more than 1 percent of global consumption, starting in January.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said this week that Russia would cut its crude output by between 3 million and 5 million tonnes in the first half of 2019 as part of the deal.
Novak also told reporters the US decision to allow some countries to trade Iranian oil after putting Tehran under sanctions was one of the key factors behind the OPEC deal.
Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit their lowest level in more than five years in November as the US sanctions on Iran's oil exports took effect last month, government and ship-tracking data showed.