Oil prices fell more than 3 percent on Thursday as officials from the big global powers stayed locked in nuclear talks with Iran that, if successful, could allow the Islamic state to release more crude oil onto world markets. Negotiations on Tehran's disputed nuclear program have stretched well beyond a self-imposed March 31 deadline, with diplomats saying the chances of a preliminary accord in the next few hours are finely balanced. Tehran is hoping for a deal that will end crippling economic sanctions and allow it to sell millions of barrels of oil, some of it stored at sea in supertankers and ready for delivery. Brent crude for May slumped $2.23, or 3.9 percent, to a low of $54.87 a barrel before rallying to around $55.20 by 0745 EDT. The contract settled $1.99 higher on Wednesday.
Oil futures rose on Tuesday to their highest levels in almost six weeks on optimism that OPEC and other producing countries may agree to extend output cuts to support prices.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister and a long-time member of the Saudi delegation to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said the kingdom’s policy would not change and a global deal to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day would be maintained.