Oil prices pared losses on Thursday, but still posted their first weekly loss in over a month, pressured by record high U.S. stockpiles, weakening equity markets, and a strong dollar.
The number of oil rigs operating in the United States fell by 15 in the previous week, oilfield services firm Baker Hughes reported Thursday. The rig count rose last week after 12 weeks of cuts.
With crude futures losing as much as 6 percent since Tuesday's settlement — their biggest slide in two days since mid-February — analysts said the oil rally of the past five weeks that brought prices up from mid-$20 levels may be unraveling.
U.S. government data on Wednesday showed crude stockpiles jumped 9.4 million barrels last week, three times more than forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.
A senior executive from the International Energy Agency, meanwhile, said a deal among a few OPEC producers and Russia to freeze production was likely to be "meaningless" as Saudi Arabia was the only one with the ability to raise output.