An increase in US crude stockpiles and record production levels have restricted oil prices.

Brent crude futures dropped 40 cents, trading at $72.50 per barrel, while US light crude went down 20 cents to stand at $68.56, Reuters reported.

Last week, Brent was trading at more than $79 a barrel and fell around 9% since then due to higher production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as Russia and the US.

London brokerage PVM Oil Associates technical analyst Robin Bieber was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The outlook remains negative.”

“We are still bullish on US shale, though we expect to see a temporary plateau in 2019 due to the bottlenecks of pipelines, manpower, and drivers.”

According to data released by the US Energy Information Administration, US crude production reached 11 million barrels per day (bpd), which represents an addition of around one million bpd in production since November.

Rystad Energy vice-president Yosuke Uehara said: “We are still bullish on US shale, though we expect to see a temporary plateau in 2019 due to the bottlenecks of pipelines and, indeed, manpower and drivers.”

Alongside the rise in output, a steep hike in US crude oil inventories contributed to the bearish tone in the market.

Last week, US crude stocks climbed 5.8 million barrels, defying expectations of a decline of 3.6 million barrels, while US gasoline inventories dropped 3.2 million barrels and distillate stockpiles fell by 371,000 barrels.

Leading OPEC member Saudi Arabia increased production last month, raising crude shipments by 390,000bpd to 7.6 million bpd. This marks the biggest increase since the end of 2016, according to the International Energy Agency.