Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Oil prices fall as top producers look to boost supplies

Oil prices reverse their rise, and drivers may see relief Oil prices slump as OPEC, Russia mull output boost
Rhonda Young | 28 May, 2018, 14:18

Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation are likely to agree to raise oil production next month in a bid to ease consumer worries about higher energy prices, their energy ministers have said.

But Russia, in particular, has been floating a potential end to the production cuts, with energy minister Alexander Novak saying on Thursday that restrictions on oil production could be eased "softly" if OPEC and non-OPEC countries see the oil market balancing in June.

Brent crude futures fell US$2.69, or 3.4 per cent, to US$76.10 a barrel by 1:07 p.m. EDT (1707 GMT).

The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, had crossed above $70 earlier this month, but fell to below $68 on Friday, from a high of $72.24 at the beginning of the week.

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"Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, Al Falih said: "I think in the near future there will be time to release supply" smoothly to avoid shocking the market".

A decision, which will relax production curbs that have been in place for 17 months, could be finalised at a meeting of major oil producers in Vienna on June 22-23, Reuters reported.

While Russia and OPEC benefit from higher oil prices, up nearly 20% since the end of previous year, their voluntary output cuts have opened the door to other producers to ramp up production and gain market share. Iran, the group's third-largest producer, has also been hit by renewed US sanctions that could significant curb its oil exports later this year.

Russian Federation produces an average of 11 million barrels per day (BPD).

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The sharp rise in crude prices has translated into significantly higher prices at the gas pump and prompted complaints from energy consumers, including U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted last month that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was "artificially" boosting prices with its production curbs. However, bottlenecks in the Permian basin, the nation's biggest shale oil producing region, mean US drillers may fail to meet growing global demand for petroleum.

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline Friday was $2.97, almost 6 cents above a week ago and roughly 60 cents above a year ago, according to the AAA motor club.

Saudi Arabia has recently shown willingness to push prices higher to bankroll domestic economic reforms and underpin the valuation of its state oil company in a planned initial public offering. "In my view, from $5/b to $7/b in oil price today are risks associated with the situation in Iran", Novak said in an interview with the Echo Moskvy radio station.

OPEC and its allies are scheduled to meet June 22 to discuss, among other things, the supply reduction put in place that has pulled since previous year about 1.8 million b/d total from the market.

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