Oil prices fall sharply as doubts loom over production cut deal

Agence France-Presse . Singapore | Published: 12:50, Apr 06,2020


This picture taken on December 11, 2019, shows an oil tanker at the port of Ras al-Khair, about 185 kilometers north of Dammam in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province overlooking the Gulf. — AFP file photo

Oil prices fell sharply on Monday after a meeting between the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies was delayed.

The meeting was convened to discuss a cut in oil production.

United States benchmark West Texas Intermediate plunged eight per cent at the open in Asia but clawed back some ground and was trading 5.7 per cent lower, at $26.72 a barrel.

International benchmark Brent crude was down 4.3 per cent to trade at $32.64 a barrel.

Oil prices have tumbled to levels not seen for years due to the coronavirus pandemic and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the kingpin of exporting group OPEC.

Business shutdowns, travel restrictions and other measures put in place to contain the virus outbreak have battered demand.

Prices had bounced back from 18-year lows last week after US president Donald Trump said that Riyadh and Moscow would draw a line under their dispute and agree to major output cuts.

But analysts had been sceptical about a quick resolution, and doubts only grew when the meeting between OPEC and its allies, including Russia, was delayed.

They had been expected to meet via video conference to discuss oil production cuts on Monday but the meeting had been postponed till Thursday, the government of energy-rich Azerbaijan said at the weekend.

Trump surprised investors last week by tweeting, ‘I expect and hope Riyadh and Moscow will be cutting back approximately 10 million barrels, and maybe substantially more.’

On Friday, Moscow said that it was prepared to discuss a reduction in the volume of about 10 million barrels a day.

But Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp, said, ‘Traders remain extremely sceptical a deal will be forthcoming, and if one does occur, it will be woefully insufficient to stem the oil supply gushers.’

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