Oil Slumps In Light of OPEC Stale Mate

Oil FuturesOn Friday, oil prices fell roughly 4 percent on the heels of evidence that suppliers Saudi Arabia and its arch rival Iran have not made much progress in the forming of their preliminary agreement from major crude exports next week with the proposed goal of freezing production, at least for now.

“As volumes continue to build, so will the pressure on the constrained pipelines system,” explains Kevin Birn, who is a a director at IHS Energy in Calgary. “At some point in the coming months those volumes could very well overtake available capacity and increased movements of rail should be expected.”

More specifically, Brent crude features slid $1.76—about 3.7 percent, to $45.89 a barrel. Still, for the week Brent is up slightly—just 0.3 percent—when taking into account gains over the past two sessions. Similarly, US West Texas Intermediate fell $1.84—or 4 percent—settling at $$44.48, with WTI crude features gaining 3 percent on the week.

Regardless of the fact that the Algeria meeting was never intended for reaching agreement—it is supposed to be for consultations—the standstill is having effect on the market. But this is not necessarily anything new. For instance, oil prices generally become more volatile before OPEC talks; Friday’s session, then, was rife with caution even with high market sentiment this week.

In reference to these Algerian talks, a representative from Macquarie Capital comments, “A ‘No Deal’ result in our definition will be one where OPEC not only failed to get an explicit deal out of the meetings, but also failed to develop a forward plan. This would be another epic fail by OPEC.”

This now marks the second attempt by OPEC to reach an agreement on curbing production. The first attempt, of course was in May; and, of course, it failed. And now the market remains skeptical regarding OPEC’s commitment.

On the other hand, non-OPEC member Russia, which is actually the largest oil exporter in the world, also reached record highs in production, earlier this week. The spike in Russia, rhetoric from OPEC, and a slowdown in US stocks, though, are what is keeping crude oil in the $40 to $50 range, following 12-year lows around $26 from the first quarter of this year.

Accordingly, Freight Investors Services fuel broker Matt Stanley comments that there is, in fact, great uncertainty among market officials in regards to price trends. He confides, “Nobody is really sure where we will go from here which strikes me that $47.50 is a number we may hover around for a while.”

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