U.S crude oil fell on Thursday as the debate for a sustainable price level continued after Saudi Arabia announced deep discounts for the crude it sells to Asian and U.S. buyers in an apparent attempt to defend its market share.
News that Libya's El Sharara oil field, one of OPEC's largest, might be ready to resume output after a pipeline blockage was cleared also weighed on sentiment in an oversupplied market. The El Sharara produced 300,000 barrels per day before it closed last month after clashes between armed groups.
Losses in oil and other dollar-denominated commodities were capped, however, by a weaker U.S. dollar against the euro amid uncertainties on whether the European Central Bank would introduce fresh stimulus into the euro zone economy.
Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company cut the January price of its Arab Light grade for Asian customers by $1.90 a barrel from December to a discount of $2 a barrel to the Oman/Dubai average.
The Arab Light Official Selling Price to the United States was set at a premium of 90 cents a barrel to the Argus Sour Crude Index for January, down 70 cents from the previous month.