West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures pared gains on Wednesday after a US official said the country was continuing to consider tools to manage energy prices, and as government data pointed to weaker gasoline demand.

Oil prices were also weighed down by a new coronavirus variant triggering fresh travel restrictions that could dampen oil demand and after an OPEC+ document showed the group forecasting a bigger oil surplus in the new year than previously thought.

WTI US crude futures were trading $1.3, or 2.02%, higher at $67.51 a barrel at 12:04 PM ET (1619 GMT), after paring some gains immediately after the weekly government stock data. They were up as much as 4% earlier in the session. Global benchmark Brent crude was up $1.5, or 2.3%, at $71.75 a barrel.

US deputy energy secretary said the Biden administration could adjust the timing of its planned release of strategic crude oil stockpiles if global energy prices drop substantially.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2021.

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