Oil prices slump 1 pct amid global market rout


Oil traded near the lowest closing price in two weeks as concerns about volatility in global markets offset an unexpected drop in US inventories. Goldman Sachs predicts a climb of more than $80 in the next six months, while JP Morgan sees Brent averaging $70 - nearly 50% higher than its October forecast.

Brent futures have lost as much as 15 per cent since hitting a four-year high above US$71 in late January.

"As a member of OPEC and a large crude producer, I would imagine they would be very self-sufficient in their own crude supply", said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC.

The North Sea's Forties Pipeline System - one of the world's most important crude oil conduits - resumed overnight after a short halt, coming on the heels of a more significant stoppage in December.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 54 cents, or 0.9 per cent, at $60.61, having settled down 1 per cent in the previous session at its lowest close since January 2.

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United States oil exports are on the rise as well.

U.S. crude inventories rose 1.9 million barrels last week, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 3.2 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) data showed on Wednesday. China sourced 56 percent of crude oil imports from OPEC countries, 14 percent from Russian Federation, and 4 percent from Brazil.

"We see oil prices dropping towards and below $60 per barrel", he said. Now, the EIA expects production to hit the 11 million bpd mark later this year, reaching an average 11.2 million in 2019. Although crude oil is produced within the country, it was generally meant for domestic consumption, and the US has never been an exporter of crude-until recently, when the US Congress permitted shale-oil producers to export locally produced crude to global markets.

"The siege we have today is a force majeure and we could close the gas pipeline to the UAE", Qatar Petroleum CEO Saad al-Kaabi had said in an interview earlier. Further, oil prices fell due to the increased USA crude supply, along with technical indicators signaling the potential for further price declines.

For Chinese buyers, the main attraction of USA oil has been price. Growing Chinese market is still one of the main supportive factors to global fuel indexes. Brent was heading for a weekly loss of almost 8 percent; US crude was on track for a 9 percent weekly drop. They may draw closer in the coming months if US producers continue to ramp up production at the current rate, which prompted the Energy Information Administration to revise upwards its forecasts for this year and next.