Oil prices hit year low as OPEC considers output cut


LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell to their lowest in a year on Friday, on course for their biggest one-month decline since late 2014, even as oil producers consider cutting production to try to stem a rising global surplus.

FILE PHOTO: A pump jack on a lease owned by Parsley Energy operates at sunset in the Permian Basin near Midland, Texas U.S. August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

Oil supply, led by the United States, is growing more quickly than demand and to ward off a build-up of unused fuel such as the one that emerged in 2015, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to start withholding output after a meeting planned for Dec. 6.

But this has done little so far to prop up the price. The value of a barrel of oil has dropped by around 20 percent so far in November, in a seven-week streak of losses.

Benchmark Brent crude oil fell $2.31 a barrel, or 3.7 percent, to a low of $60.29, its lowest since November 2017. By 1050 GMT, Brent was trading around $60.75, down $1.85.

U.S. light crude lost $2.90, or 5.3 percent, at one point to touch a low of $51.73 a barrel.

“The question is now how much longer bears are able to keep firing. Are they going to run out of ammunition shortly or they have ample supply of bullets?” PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga said.

“It is reasonable to compare the current economic and supply/demand picture with the one four years ago. After all, it was in November and December 2014 when oil prices fell more or less to the same level where they are now,” he said.

Volatility has spiked to its highest since late 2016, as investors have rushed to buy protection against further steep price declines.

Volatility, a measure of investor demand for a particular option, has jumped above 60 percent for very bearish near-term sell options, double what it was two weeks ago.

GRAPHIC: Oil price volatility has surged – tmsnrt.rs/2PO4r3SGlobal oil supply has surged this year. The International Energy Agency expects non-OPEC output alone to rise by 2.3 million bpd this year, up from its forecast six months ago of 1.8 million bpd.

Demand next year meanwhile is expected to grow at a rate of 1.3 million bpd, compared with a forecast of 1.5 million bpd six months ago.

Adjusting to lower demand, top crude exporter Saudi Arabia said on Thursday that it may reduce supply as it pushes OPEC to agree to a joint output cut of 1.4 million bpd.

GRAPHIC: Global crude oil supply & demand balance – tmsnrt.rs/2PKtzIy

Reporting by Christopher Johnson and Amanda Cooper in London, and Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

By Kenyan Digest

The Kenyan Digest Team