Oil Prices Plunge as Saudi Arabia Prepares Record Output
Oil prices declined sharply Monday amid reports that Saudi Arabia is heeding to President Trump’s request to keep the energy market well supplied. OPEC’s kingpin is stepping up its contractual obligations to key Asian markets amid disruptions from Venezuela and Libya, among others.
Oil Prices Drop
Crude futures in New York and London were down more than 4% on Monday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contracts for August settlement bottomed at $67.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest in nearly a month. Prices would later consolidate at $68.11 a barrel for a decline of $2.90, or 4.1%.
ICE Brent futures for September delivery bottomed at $71.80 a barrel, the lowest in three months. It was last down $3.16, or 4.1%, at $72.17 a barrel.
Saudi Arabia Ramping Up Production
Bloomberg reported Monday that the Saudis are planning to offer extra crude volumes to some of their Asian buyers less than a month after Riyadh convinced fellow OPEC members to crank up daily production levels.
Saudi Arabian Oil Co. has offered extra cargoes of its Arab Extra Light crude to at least two buyers in Asia, Bloomberg said. If approved, the additional supplies will be shipped for August.
Last month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to raise production by 600,000 barrels per day, paving the way for an eventual 1 million-barrel-per-day increase for the cartel and its allies. The Saudis are planing to pump at record levels to offset supply disruptions elsewhere.
OPEC’s secondary sources indicate that the Saudis began ramping up production before the biannual meeting in Vienna on June 22, where cartel members agreed to ease supply restrictions. According to the data, Saudi Arabia boosted its daily output by 405,400 barrels in June compared with May.
Riyadh is also looking to pick up the slack from Iran, which faces renewed sanctions after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal. The Saudis are said to be targeting crude output at 10.8 million barrels per day, the largest on record.
Trump Succeeding in Reining In Oil Prices
President Trump has criticized OPEC’s policies and has called on producers to raise their output in order to cap runaway price growth.
“Oil prices are too high, OPEC is at it again. Not good!” Trump tweeted in June. Earlier this month, he said: “The OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help. If anything, they are driving prices higher as the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s. This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW!”
With political pressure to rein in oil prices intensifying ahead of the midterm elections, the Trump administration has announced it is considering tapping the nation’s emergency crude supply. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve currently houses a total inventory of 660 million crude barrels, though options under review suggest that figure is between 5 million barrels and 30 million barrels lower.
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