Crude oil prices traded in a narrow range early on Friday, oscillating between the optimism of a supply boost from the US and investors' fears about the impact of Russia's demand for rouble gas payments starting from today.
The benchmark Brent crude was last at $104.6 per barrel, trading in a narrow range of $104 to $105. On Thursday, Brent crude futures for the previous period, which expired yesterday, crashed 5.6 per cent to close at $107.91.
While US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 0.3 per cent to trade early on Friday at $99.98 per barrel after rising to a high of $101.75, the contract had slumped 7 per cent on Thursday.
The US announced the most significant release on record of crude from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) of 1 million barrels per day for six months starting in May.
That supply boost caused the sharp falls in oil prices on Thursday. Both those benchmark contracts were headed for a weekly loss of around 13 per cent, their biggest in two years.
International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries are set to meet at 1200 GMT on Friday to discuss a further emergency oil release that would follow their March 1 agreement to release around 60 million barrels, Reuters reported.
While that planned release from the US is likely to cover the disruption of Russian gas, oil-producing countries stuck to their plans of modest supply in May, despite pressure to use their spare capacity to boost output further.
Meanwhile, investors fret about the impact of the Russian President's demand for gas payments in roubles starting today or risk a supply cut-off, which Germany termed "blackmail."