Crude oil markets pause at $33-barrel to ponder mooted OPEC production cut

oil price at 11 year low 21 Dec 2015Crude oil prices paused for breath yesterday as the stock market mulled the much-mooted prospect of a cut in OPEC production glut that has pushed prices to the lowest in over a decade.

Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, were unchanged at $33.36 a barrel on the London stock market last night.

Nigeria’s oil minister told Reuters the mood inside OPEC was shifting to a growing consensus that a decision must be reached on how to prop up prices.

And non-OPEC member Russia said it was in talks on coordinated output cuts with individual OPEC members, mainly Venezuela, but not with the organisation itself, news agency Interfax quoted Russia’s representative to OPEC as saying.

However, many analysts – including the International Energy Agency – are still sceptical OPEC will cut a deal with other producers to reign in ballooning output.

With a lifting of international trade sanctions, Iran is now exporting 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude, and will be pumping 1.5 million bpd by the start of the next Iranian year on March 20 – which may be a tipping point for OPEC to begin a turn-down in oil production.

Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell observed delphically that volatility in oil prices ‘may stabilise later this year and that prices could rebound after that.’

Meanwhile, Shell operatives have removed all the BG Group signs from its Berkshire head office near London over the weekend after the $50-billion ‘mega-merger’ with Shell.

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