Crude Prices Fall as OPEC+ Members Disagree on Crude Production Quotas

January WTI crude oil (CLF24) on Monday closed down -0.68 (-0.90%), and Jan RBOB gasoline (RBF24) closed up +0.0088 (+0.41%).

Crude oil and gasoline prices on Monday settled mixed.  Crude prices are under pressure from a dispute among Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members on crude production levels.  Also, weaker-than-expected U.S. economic news suggests weaker growth that is negative for energy demand and crude prices.  A weaker dollar on Monday was supportive of energy prices.

A rift among OPEC+ members regarding crude production levels has delayed the group's monthly meeting until this Thursday and is weighing on crude prices.  Saudi Arabia, which has unilaterally cut back its crude output by 1.0 million bpd since July, is now asking other OPEC+ members to reduce their oil production levels, which has prompted pushback from some African oil producers, including Angola and Nigeria.  OPEC+ delegates said they were progressing toward a compromise but have yet to clinch an agreement.  The rift among OPEC+ members about production levels reduces the likelihood that the group will extend their crude output cuts or make deeper cuts.

Monday's U.S. economic news was weaker than expected and bearish for energy demand and crude prices.  U.S. Oct new home sales fell -5.6% m/m to 679,000, weaker than expectations of 721,000.  Also, the Nov Dallas Fed manufacturing outlook of general business activity unexpectedly fell -0.7 to a 4-month low of -19.9, weaker than expectations of an increase to -16.0.

A decline in crude in floating storage is bullish for prices.  Monday's weekly data from Vortexa showed that the amount of crude oil held worldwide on tankers that have been stationary for at least a week fell -2.9% w/w to 86.52 million bbl as of Nov 24.

Increased crude consumption in India, the world's third largest crude consumer, is bullish for oil prices after India's oil product consumption in October rose +3.7% y/y to 19.3 MMT, the highest five months.

An increase in Russian crude exports is bearish for oil prices.  Tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg shows 3.2 million bpd of crude was shipped from Russian ports in the four weeks to Nov 12, near the highest in four months.

The tightness in the oil market is expected to continue due to the extension of OPEC+ production cuts.  Saudi Arabia recently said it would maintain its unilateral crude production cut of 1.0 million bpd through December.  The move will hold Saudi Arabia's crude output at about 9 million bpd, the lowest level in three years.  Russia also recently announced that it would maintain its 300,000 bpd cut in crude production through December.  OPEC Oct crude production was little changed, rising +50,000 bpd to 28.08 million bpd.

Last Wednesday's EIA report showed that (1) U.S. crude oil inventories as of Nov 17 were -0.5% below the seasonal 5-year average, (2) gasoline inventories were -1.4% below the seasonal 5-year average, and (3) distillate inventories were -13.7% below the 5-year seasonal average.  U.S. crude oil production in the week ended Nov 17 was unchanged w/w at a record high of 13.2 million bpd.

Baker Hughes reported last Wednesday that active U.S. oil rigs in the week ended Nov 24 were unchanged at 500 rigs, modestly above the 1-3/4 year low of 494 rigs from Nov 10.  The number of U.S. oil rigs has fallen this year after moving sharply higher during 2021-22 from the 18-year pandemic low of 172 rigs posted in Aug 2020 to a 3-1/2 year high of 627 rigs in December 2022. 

More Crude Oil News from Barchart

On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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