Oil prices steadied today after a surprise uplift in US crude stockpiles impeded a recent upward trend that has pushed global benchmarks to 15-month highs.
Brent crude was up 16 cents, or 0.3 per cent, today to $56.38 a barrel after industry data released by the American Petroleum Institute last night showed a 4.2m barrel increase in US inventories in the week to 23 December.
Analysts had expected stockpiles to decline by 2.1m barrels.
West Texas Intermediate crude, the US benchmark, was down 11 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $53.95 a barrel in mid-afternoon trading in London.
Oil prices have been on the up since late November, rising around 20 per cent since the world's major oil cartel the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) agreed to cut production by 1.2m barrels per day (bpd) during the first six months of 2017.
This agreement was bolstered by another deal, made around a fortnight later, between the organisation and 11 non-Opec oil producers. The non-Opec producers agreed to cut production by 558,000 bpd, with more than half the cuts shouldered by Russia, bringing the total output cut to 1.8m bpd.
It is hoped this will go some way to reversing the global supply glut that has hindered prices since 2014.
A committee of Opec and non-Opec producers will meet in Vienna on 21 and 22 January to discuss compliance with the production agreement, Kuwaiti oil minister Essam Al-Marzouq has told state news agency Kuna.