Oil prices fall as OPEC seen keeping production high

  • Reuters, Singapore
  • Updated: Jun 05, 2015 12:23 IST

Oil markets fell for a third day on Friday ahead of an OPEC meeting where the oil group is expected to stick by its policy of unconstrained output for another six months, keeping the market oversupplied. Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi said he was 100% comfortable with the oil market, the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper reported on Friday.

After cautious early trading in Asia, prices started to fall on Friday as the first Europeans began dealing.

Front-month Brent futures were trading at $61.56 per barrel at 06:28 GMT on Friday, down 47 cents. US crude futures were down 45 cents at 57.55.

Prices had already tumbled 5% over the previous two sessions as investors looked for the global oversupply to continue.

"Prices came under pressure as Iraq ... exports are now expected to rise approximately 5% in June as various fields boost output," ANZ said.

High production around the world means that global oil markets are oversupplied and ongoing high output by OPEC would mean that each month more unneeded crude would enter a market in which millions of barrels are already loaded in tankers waiting for buyers.

By agreeing to maintain its existing output ceiling, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would continue to support the world's top exporter Saudi Arabia, which last year said it would not cut production to keep prices high, triggering the biggest price fall since the financial crisis of 2008.

With oil prices having rebounded by more than a third after hitting a six-year low of $45 a barrel in January, OPEC officials in Vienna see little reason to tinker with a strategy that seems to have resurrected moribund growth in oil consumption and put a damper on the US shale boom.

Despite the oversupply, some traders expected a fall in US rig activity to soon begin to translate into lower production.

Renowned oil trader Andy Hall expects US crude prices to rise above $65 a barrel despite the high global production of oil, citing the drop in the US oil rig count as a factor.

"Despite a collapse in rig counts in the US, oil production has yet to register a sustained decline. But it will come," Hall said in a monthly letter to investors in his $3.3 billion Connecticut-based hedge fund Astenbeck Capital Management.

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