Oil prices increased as investors focused on an OPEC+ meeting, with the cartel facing consumer pressure to produce more. 

After dropping over 4% in the previous two days, oil futures in New York traded above $81 per barrel. According to delegates and diplomats, the US has asked the alliance to boost output by up to 800,000 barrels per day, but OPEC+ is expected to adhere to its planned gradual increase for December when it meets later Thursday. 

Meanwhile, the US and Iran will resume discussions later this month on resurrecting a deal that put restrictions on Tehran's nuclear program. The restoration of the agreement would likely result in increased crude exports from the OPEC producer. 

Global oil production down in February 2020

Oil has climbed to its highest level since 2014, owing to a combination of economic recovery from the pandemic and an energy shortage driving increased demand for crude. US  President Joe Biden has led calls from major consumers for OPEC+ to increase output to cool high prices, but Saudi Arabia and other members of the alliance have resisted, citing risks from ongoing coronavirus outbreaks.

OPEC+ is set to authorise a monthly rise of 400,000 barrels per day, continuing the gradual revival of output stalled during the pandemic. While the alliance has consistently set that goal, some members, particularly Angola and Nigeria, have struggled to increase output.

"Prices are likely to stay volatile as anticipation builds on OPEC+'s next move," said VI Investment Corp. senior commodities analyst Will Sungchil Yun. “Prices will be increased once again if OPEC+ decides to go forward with a 400,000-barrel-a-day rise as planned.”