Crude oil prices fell in Asia on Thursday with investors noting the continued battle for market share led by Saudi Arabia. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude oil for April delivery fell 0.71% to $50.63 a barrel. Overnight, oil prices moved higher on Wednesday as Saudi Arabia’s oil minister calmed markets with reassuring comments on global oil demand and U.S. data indicated that oil supply in the nation reached its highest level ever. Prices were around $48.95 a barrel just before the release of inventory data. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 8.4 million barrels last week. The increase more than doubled its forecasts of a 4.0 million barrel weekly spike. In Cushing, Oklahoma, storage increased from 46.3 million barrels to 48.7 million — the highest level in over a year. In spite of the supply increase, domestic crude production rose by 5,000 barrels to 9.285 million barrels per day. The daily total is the highest in the United States in more than 30 years. The production increase is being spurred in part by a host of refinery strikes throughout the nation that reportedly continue to gain momentum. Workers at a refinery plant in Port Arthur, Texas and a chemical plant in Louisiana joined the month-long strike between Shell Oil and the USW late last week. The labor dispute, which has reportedly affected 20% of refining capacity nationwide, is believed to cause a spike in oil prices by creating a pent-up demand for crude. Brent oil prices increased $2.94 or 5.01% to $61.60 a barrel On wednesday. The prices surged after Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters on Wednesday that oil markets have settled down after a prolonged period of volatility late last year. It marked the minister’s first public comments since he said that Saudi Arabia would not abandon its oil pricing strategy even if brent oil dropped to $20 a barrel. “Markets are calm now, demand is growing,” Naimi said. “Things are settling now, settling well.” Crude oil prices have dropped more than 60% since June.