By Stephanie Kelly
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Oil prices steadied on Friday after OPEC+ ministers resumed talks on raising oil output the day after the United Arab Emirates blocked a deal, which could delay plans to pump more oil through the end of the year.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, are meeting again after UAE opposed the proposals, saying it wanted its quota to be higher, sources said. The long rally in prices could be undermined if OPEC+ nations go their separate ways and add to supply as they see fit.
Brent crude futures rose 33 cents to settle at $76.17 a barrel, after rising 1.6% on Thursday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 7 cents to settle at $75.16 a barrel, having jumped 2.4% on Thursday to close at their highest since October 2018.
"We're in wait-and-see mode here with OPEC," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital in New York. "We'll have to see where the Saudis want to come out in terms of holding the group together."
On Thursday, both benchmark contracts rose after OPEC+ sources said the group aimed to hike output by less than expected, then retreated when UAE opposed the proposals, which also included extending the pact on output to the end of 2022.
"If the alliance cracks and breaks up ... the oil market could plunge into a very similar price crash witnessed when Russia 'left' OPEC+ at the March 2020 meeting and triggered a price war," said Louise Dickson, oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy
WTI was on track for a 1.5% rise for the week, with the U.S. crude market expected to tighten as refinery runs pick up to meet recovering gasoline demand. [EIA/S]
U.S. energy firms added oil and natural gas rigs for a third time in four weeks. The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by 5 to 475 in the week to July 2, its highest since April 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.,,.
Brent was largely steady on the week, as the market assessed fuel demand concerns in parts of Asia where cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant are surging.
Citi analysts said they did not expect WTI to climb to a premium to Brent because they expected U.S. oil output to pick up at the end of 2021 and grow further in 2022.
(Additional reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by David Goodman, Edmund Blair, Louise Heavens, William Maclean and David Gregorio)