The U.S. oil benchmark fell below $51 a barrel Wednesday morning after the federal government reported that crude stockpiles rose for the 10th consecutive week.
Commercial crude oil inventories in the U.S. jumped by another 3.6 million barrels, pushing crude stocks 7 percent above the five-year average. However, gasoline stocks fell by about 800,000 barrels, although the storage levels are still about 5 percent above average.
Total petroleum stocks rose by 2.4 million barrels.
Market observers are now focusing on the Dec. 6 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to see if the cartel and possibly others like Russia agree to some level of production cuts to help balance supply and demand and to stabilize falling oil prices. Thus far, OPEC’s biggest player, Saudi Arabia, has balked at acting alone on output reductions.