Crude Oil

Crude Oil

3 April 2016, 11:30
Diego Bonifacio
Oil futures fell sharply on Friday, after the Saudi deputy crown prince said the kingdom will not cap output unless Iran and other major producers do so, casting doubts over whether a highly awaited production freeze will happen.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman insisted that the kingdom will resist any agreement to cap its output unless the pact is also signed by their Iranian rivals.

Iran is expected to attend an oil producers meeting in Qatar on April 17 to discuss an output freeze, although it may not necessarily partake in negotiations. The Islamic Republic has maintained that it will not contribute to any output freeze until its crude exports return to pre-sanction levels.

On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for June delivery sank $1.66, or 4.12%, to close the week at $38.67 a barrel, after slumping to a daily low of $38.55, a level not seen since March 15.

On the week, London-traded Brent futures declined $2.60, or 4.45%, the second straight weekly loss, amid uncertainty over a deal between major producers to cap output.

Producers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-members are due to meet in Doha, Qatar later this month to discuss an output freeze. But it isn’t clear exactly which, or how many, OPEC and non-OPEC members will attend the meeting.

Despite recent losses, Brent futures are up by roughly 40%, since briefly dropping below $30 a barrel on February 11. Short-covering began in mid-February after Saudi Arabia and fellow OPEC members Qatar and Venezuela agreed with non-OPEC member Russia to freeze output at January levels, provided other oil exporters joined in.

Elsewhere, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in May fell to an intraday low of $36.63 a barrel, the weakest since March 16, before ending the session at $36.79, down $1.55, or 4.04%.

The U.S. benchmark held on to steep losses after oilfield services provider Baker Hughes said the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. fell by 10 last week to 362.

For the week, New York-traded oil futures tumbled $2.91, or 7.05%, after data showed that U.S. oil supplies rose to yet another all-time high last week.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, crude oil inventories rose by 2.3 million barrels last week to a record-high of 534.8 million barrels.

Since falling to 13-year lows at $26.05 on February 11, U.S. crude futures have rebounded by approximately 40% as a decline in U.S. shale production boosted sentiment. However, analysts warned that market conditions remained weak due to an ongoing glut.

Meanwhile, Brent's premium to the West Texas Intermediate crude contract stood at $1.88, compared to a gap of $1.99 by close of trade on Thursday.

In the week ahead, oil traders will be focusing on U.S. stockpile data on Tuesday and Wednesday for fresh supply-and-demand signals.

Developments surrounding a potential deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to cap output will also be in focus.

Ahead of the coming week, has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets.

Tuesday, April 5

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, is to publish its weekly report on U.S. oil supplies.

Wednesday, April 6

The U.S. Energy Information Administration is to release its weekly report on oil and gasoline stockpiles.

Friday, April 8

Baker Hughes will release weekly data on the U.S. oil rig count.

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