Oil prices pared early gains on Thursday despite US industry data showing a big drop in crude stocks last week, with investors sceptical that OPEC-led cuts will be enough to rebalance an oversupplied market.
Brent crude oil was up 40 cents at US$51.16 a barrel by 0940 GMT (5:40 a.m. ET), while USA light crude gained 40 cents to US$48.72.
Refinery crude runs rose 229,000 barrels per day to 17.5 million bpd, surpassing its last peak at 17.3 million bpd in the week to April 21, and utilization rates increased 1.5 percentage points to 95 percent of nationwide capacity, data showed.
Crude oil prices continued to trend higher for the second consecutive fortnight in a row.
Oil futures were bolstered in early morning trade by expectations the United States could pull out of a global climate accord and by inventory data ahead of the EIA report that suggested US crude stockpiles had fallen by 8.7 million barrels.
Brent crude oil futures briefly rose above US$50 per barrel in early trading, but had dipped back to US$49.94 by 0040 GMT.
He said the nation's oil production was still hovering around 1.5 million barrels per day, down from around 2.2 million b/d.
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President Donald Trump has vowed to provide extra support for US oil production and is widely expected to pull the United States out of a landmark global climate accord.
Crude futures kicked off the week with slight gains, though downward pressure remains as many investors remain unconvinced that production cuts by Middle Eastern and Russian Federation producers are sufficient to offset accelerating output in the USA and Africa.
Traders said that prices had received support from a tightening physical crude market.
A week ago, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-OPEC members met in Vienna to roll over the output cut deal to reduce 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of next March. "That's relatively higher than the average draws we've seen, so you would have thought that crude would have fared a little better", said CFRA's Glickman.
Analysts said the group is at risk of losing further market share to USA shale oil producers, which could cause compliance with the deal to slip in the second half of the year.