Oil prices tumble to 7-year low

Oil tanks are seen at a Sinopec plant in China’s Anhui province

Oil tanks are seen at a Sinopec plant in China’s Anhui province

Crude oil futures tumbled to their lowest in nearly seven years on Monday after OPEC failed to address a growing supply glut, while a stronger dollar made it more expensive to hold crude positions.

Brent and US crude futures fell as much 5 percent in belated reaction to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) policy meeting on Friday which ended without an agreement to lower production.

For the first time in decades, OPEC oil ministers dropped any reference to the group’s output ceiling, highlighting disagreement among members about how to accommodate Iranian barrels once Western sanctions are lifted.

“We’re in a tug-of-war between a heavily shorted market and a glut of oil in the US and globally, as Saudi Arabia continues to produce oil at elevated levels to maintain market share,” said Chris Jarvis at Caprock Risk Management, an energy markets consultancy in Frederick, Maryland.

“Couple this with a strengthening dollar as the market anticipates a US rate hike this month, oil is heading lower with a near term target of $32 for WTI.”

US crude’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were down $1.80 at $38.17 a barrel by 10:33 a.m. EST (1532 GMT).

Its session low of $37.96 was barely above 6-1/2 year lows of $37.75 struck in August.

Brent futures fell $1.65 to $41.35, after sliding to$41.20, their lowest since March 2009.

US diesel futures prices also hit their lowest since May 2009 while US gasoline fell to a one-month low as the selloff extended to a wider swathe of the petroleum complex.

The dollar was up against a basket of currencies after jobs data published on Friday bolstered the case for a US rate in December.

OPEC’s output of more than 30 million barrels per day (bpd) has compounded an oil glut, pushing production 0.5 million to 2 million bpd beyond demand.

Saudi Arabia thinks unconventional oil producers, including US shale drillers who have fed the glut, will eventually be squeezed out of the market by high production costs and low selling prices.

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told a conference in Doha he hoped to see oil prices adjust at the beginning of next year as unconventional supplies start to decline.

“This year you see a decline, there is no additional unconventional oil coming to the market, actually there is a decline,” Nasser told an energy conference in Qatar’s capital Doha.

“The supply and demand imbalance in the market will adjust and stabilize and the gap will be closing, and we will be seeing, hopefully, an adjustment in the prices going forward starting from 2016,” he said.


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