Oil futures were little changed Monday, hovering around recent levels, finding some support from Iraqi oil minister comments arguing against any increase in OPEC production.
Crude futures closed well above their session lows. NYMEX July crude settled 36 cents higher at $66.10/b, bouncing off an intraday low of $64.96/b. ICE August Brent was flat at $76.46/b after trading as low as $75.52/b.
Iraqi oil minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said Monday crude prices remain too low for OPEC producers to reverse course and pump more oil.
Saudi Arabia and Russia, which is not an OPEC member, have indicated they may lobby for more flexibility on production quotas under the coordinated pact, given declines in Venezuela and impact of US sanctions on Iranian exports.
Iraq will not accept "unilateral decisions" made by any producer, which would be seen as a violation of the terms of the supply deal involving OPEC and non-OPEC members, Luaibi said in a statement.
His comments come ahead of a June 22 meeting in Vienna that figures to be a pivotal gathering of producers participating in the OPEC-led supply cut agreement, which is set to expire at the end of this year.
"We look for this price consolidation to continue this week with the approach of the long-awaited OPEC meeting at the end of next week," consultant Jim Ritterbusch said in a note.
"We still look for the Saudis to guide the discussions and we still see a Saudi sweet spot in the $75-$80 zone per nearby Brent," he said.
"Consequently, we don't expect any decisions that would drive international crude pricing much below recent lows," the note said.
The potential for OPEC and Russia to shift strategy seems to have weighed on crude futures, pulling prices off three-year highs reached in late May.
Speculative traders still hold more long than short positions in crude futures by a wide margin, but bullish enthusiasm has ebbed, signaling some skepticism that further upside is likely for the time being.
Money managers' net length in ICE Brent fell 15,327 to 419,948 contracts in the week that ended June 5, the lowest in 10 months, Intercontinental Exchange data showed Friday.
For the same week, money managers reduced their net length in NYMEX crude by 14,811 contracts to 286,176 contracts, the lowest level since late October, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data.
Refined product futures fell Monday. NYMEX July ULSD settled 36 points lower at $2.1607/gal. NYMEX July RBOB settled at $2.1049/gal, down 1.04 cents.