Crude oil prices steadied on Thursday as strong demand for oil products helped to balance a global overhang of crude oil for immediate delivery.
North Sea Brent crude oil LCOc1 traded within a fairly narrow range as investors eyed a weak physical crude market in the Atlantic basin amid reports of stronger demand for gasoline and diesel in the United States and Europe.
Official prices for Nigerian crude have hit their lowest in at least a decade with as much as 10 million barrels of unsold light, sweet crude oil capping Atlantic basin prices.
But demand for oil products is fairly strong. U.S. gasoline demand in the week to June 19 hit the highest seasonal level since 1991, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Brent for August LCOc1 was flat at $63.49 a barrel by 8.50 a.m. EDT, after ending the previous day down 96 cents, or 1.5 percent. U.S. crude for August CLc1 was down 25 cents at $60.02 a barrel, after finishing Wednesday down 74 cents.
“Reports of unsold physical cargoes in the North Sea combined with a Brent crude oil contango that shows no signs of tightening are a warning that the market is currently not tightening up into the high demand season as one should expect,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, analyst at SEB Markets in Oslo.