Oil prices decline as demand concerns persist

Oil and Gas

Oil prices fell on Friday as worries about potential softening demand for crude persisted, weighing on the market.

The West Texas Intermediate for March delivery settled 1.40 U.S. dollars lower at 54.19 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after hitting the lowest level for a most active contract since late October.

Brent crude for March delivery dropped 1.35 dollars to end at 60.69 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange, notching a 6.4-percent weekly decline.

Concerns over weaker demand for crude increased and the situation was complicated by worries about oversupply risks, experts noted.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said earlier this week that he expected the market to be oversupplied by as much as 1 million barrels per day in the first half of this year.

Traders also kept a close eye on the newly-released U.S. crude data.

U.S. crude oil production remained level during the week ending Jan. 17, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Thursday.

According to the EIA, U.S. crude oil production stayed the same as the previous week at 13.0 million barrels per day (b/d) last week, up by about 1.1 million b/d year on year.

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook released last week, the EIA forecast that U.S. crude oil production will average 13.3 million and 13.7 million barrels per day in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Enditem

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