LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a third day on Tuesday to near $76 a barrel on expectations of rising fuel stockpiles in the United States and reassurances from OPEC that it would pump more crude if necessary.
London Brent crude, currently seen as more representative of the world market, eased 71 cents to $76.15 a barrel by 0900 GMT, after falling 78 cents on Monday.
U.S. crude slid 75 cents to $74.14
U.S. crude stocks are expected to have dropped last week as refinery usage increased sharply, with refiners ramping up production to offset worries over summer fuel supplies, a preliminary Reuters poll of industry analysts showed.
Distillate fuel stocks are seen rising 800,000 barrels and gasoline by 300,000 barrels in U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data due at 10:30 EDT on Wednesday.
“The market was instantly down by OPEC concerns, and now it is being pressured as U.S. refiners are expected to increase refinery usage ahead of the EIA data,” said Koo Ja-kyon, analyst at Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC).
OPEC President Mohammed al-Hamli said on Sunday the cartel was willing to produce more oil if needed and he is concerned that high oil prices may hurt the world economy, comments that spurred a bout of profit-taking by funds on Monday.
Brent hit $78.40 last week, just off its all-time high of $78.65 last August.
A high-ranking official from OPEC’s research division also said a fair price for both oil producers and consumers for a barrel of oil would be around $60 to $65 a barrel.
Consumer governments have called repeatedly on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost output to ease high prices. But OPEC has resisted so far, saying crude supplies are more than ample.