Brent oil edged further away from a four-year high on Wednesday and U.S. crude fell, after the U.S. said it would ensure crude markets are well supplied before sanctions are re-imposed on Iran and as President Donald Trump criticized high prices.
Brent crude futures were down 43 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $81.44 a barrel by 0041 GMT, after gaining nearly one percent the previous session. Earlier on Tuesday, Brent hit its highest since November 2014 at $82.55 per barrel.
U.S. crude futures were down 40 cents, or 0.6 percent at $71.88 a barrel. They rose 0.3 percent on Tuesday to close at their highest level since mid-July.
However, Brent is on course for its fifth consecutive quarterly increase, the longest such stretch for the global benchmark since early 2007, when a six-quarter run led to a record-high of $147.50 a barrel.
“We will ensure prior to the reimposition of our sanctions that we have a well supplied oil market,” Washington’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, told a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly.
In a speech at the UN, Trump reiterated calls on the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to pump more oil and stop raising prices.
He also accused Iran of sowing chaos and promised further sanctions on the OPEC member after restrictions on its oil exports are imposed from early November.
The so-called ‘OPEC+’ group, which includes Russia, Oman and Kazakhstan, met over the weekend to discuss a possible increase in crude output, but the group was in no rush to do so.
Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC secretary general, said in Madrid on Tuesday that OPEC and its partners should cooperate to ensure they do not “fall from one crisis to another”.
Also weighing on sentiment was an industry report showing U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly climbed last week.
Crude inventories rose by 2.9 million barrels in the week to September 21 to 400 million, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 1.3 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said.