Oil prices opened mixed in early Asian trade on Thursday (Oct 20), as investors balanced caution over tightening supply against lower demand projections.
Brent crude futures for December settlement had fallen 28 cents, or 0.3%, to US$92.13 a barrel by 0010 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery, which expires on Thursday, rose 34 cents, or 0.4%, to US$85.89 per barrel.
In remarks on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said he plans to sell 15 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), and repurchase oil if prices fall enough.
The reserve release would be the last sale from the planned sale of 180 million barrels of oil announced shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
However, a looming European Union ban on Russian crude and oil products and the output cut from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, known as OPEC+, of two million barrels per day supported prices.
Global demand for fuel remains uncertain. US economic activity expanded modestly in recent weeks, although it was flat in some regions and declined in a couple of others, the US Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in a report that showed firms growing more pessimistic about the outlook.
US crude inventories fell unexpectedly last week, down 1.7 million barrels, weekly government data showed, against expectations for a build of 1.4 million barrels.
SPR levels fell 3.6 million barrels to just over 405 million, the lowest since May 1984.