The North Sea oil and gas industry was plunged into further uncertainty last night after Saudi Arabia blocked calls from poorer members of oil producers’ cartel Opec for production cuts to stop a slide in global prices. Opec’s decision not to cut output despite huge global oversupply sent benchmark crude plunging to a fresh four-year low. Brent oil fell more than $6 to $71.25 a barrel after the meeting of Opec ministers in Vienna, which marked a major shift away from the group’s long-standing policy of defending prices.
The decision by OPEC that the output ceiling would remain unchanged has seen the price of Brent drop below $75 for the first time since 2010. Here is just some of the reaction from around the world following that announcement in Vienna:
Brent crude traded above $80 a barrel after China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, cut interest rates for the first time since 2012 to bolster its economy. West Texas Intermediate also rose in New York. Futures gained as much as 2.3% in London. The People’s Bank of China cut lending and deposit rates effective from tomorrow, according to a statement on its website. Half of the 20 analysts surveyed predict the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will reduce output, while the rest expect no change, when the group meets next week.
Oil prices have dipped below 80 US dollars a barrel for the first time in four years, boosting hopes for cheaper petrol on UK forecourts. The price of Brent crude for December delivery fell as low as 79 US dollars a barrel after industry cartel Opec yesterday predicted that demand for its oil will be slightly lower next year at 29.2 million barrels a day. The world’s uncertain growth outlook, with the eurozone stagnant and Chinese expansion showing signs of easing, has fuelled fears that there will be a glut of oil swilling around the global economy.
The slump in oil prices is a boon to China as the world’s second-biggest oil consumer. It’s a different story for the country as a major producer. The slide in prices to a four-year low threatens to cut spending, production and profit for the country’s oil companies including PetroChina Co (857) Brent, the global benchmark, has fallen 26% this year to below $83 a barrel. The decline, amid signs that global supply is outpacing demand, is pressuring profits from oil extraction across the globe. After a flurry of acquisitions and spending that’s stretched the balance sheets of Chinese oil companies, the country will also have a diminished appetite for deals, according to Sanford C Bernstein & Co.
The price of Brent crude has steadied at $86 a barrel after the announcement of a cut in Saudi-Kuwait oil output. Production at the Khafji oilfield has been stopped temporarily for environmental reasons.