Crude oil prices slid lower on Monday (Feb 8), pushing US oil below US$30 a barrel, after weekend talks between OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and Venezuela dashed hopes for a reduction in production.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery sank US$1.20 (3.9 per cent) to US$29.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April, the European benchmark, finished at US$32.88 a barrel, down US$1.18 (3.5 per cent) from Friday.
The meeting between Venezuela and Saudi oil ministers appeared to be a washout as Saudi Arabia continued to show unwillingness to support an emergency OPEC meeting on low prices, said Tim Evans of Citi Futures. "This sets the bar for success at about the lowest level imaginable, in our view, and leaves the market facing ongoing physical oversupply," Evans said.
OPEC, the 13-nation cartel in which Saudi Arabia is the biggest producer, has refused to cut output as it looks to maintain market share in the face of competition from US shale.
In late January, speculation that Russia and OPEC could meet to discuss production cuts lent short-lived support to prices.
"So far what we see are meetings with no result," said James Williams of WTRG Economics. "It's probably going to be mid-year until we see anything that looks like a bullish market."
James Hughes, analyst at traders GKFX, noted that the market was in a "holding pattern" awaiting supply-side news. He said that "US$30 will be an important level for the next few months, if continued falls below the level are met by heavy buying." "The worry is that investors are just catching their breath until a further move lower continues."