Oil Prices Steady Amid Reverse Release

Oil prices were steady on Wednesday -- the last day before a long weekend in the U.S. -- as investors questioned the effectiveness of a U.S.-led release of oil from strategic reserves and turned their focus to how producers will respond.

Brent crude futures were up seven cents at $82.37 U.S. per barrel, after rising 3.3% on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures advanced six cents to $78.56 per barrel, following a 2.3% gain in the previous day.

The United States said it would release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves in coordination with China, India, South Korea, Japan and Britain, to try to cool prices after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) ignored calls to pump more.

Japan will release "a few hundred thousand kilolitres" of oil from its national reserve, but timing has not been decided, Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said on Wednesday.

Analysts said the effect on prices was likely to be short-lived after years of declining investment and a strong global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coordinated release may add about 70 million to 80 million barrels of crude supply, smaller than the more-than-100 million barrels the market has been pricing in, analysts at Goldman Sachs said.

Attention has now switched to how OPEC+ will react to the joint reserve release when they meet on Dec. 2 to discuss policy.