Oil dips ahead of OPEC meeting
LONDON, September 21, 2017 – Crude oil prices turned lower on Thursday, as traders finally reacted to the previous session’s downbeat U.S. stockpiles data and as markets were cautious ahead of a highly-anticipated meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Friday.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude October contract was at $50.39 a barrel by 06:35 a.m. ET (10:35 GMT), down 30 cents or about 0.59%, off the previous session’s four-month peak of $50.79.
Elsewhere, Brent oil for November delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London was up 19 cents or about 0.34% at $56.10 a barrel, after hitting a fresh five-month high of $56.30 overnight.
Market participants initially shrugged off Wednesday’s report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing that crude stockpiles rose more than expected last week.
It was the third consecutive week crude inventories increased in the U.S., as heavy flooding due to storm Harvey knocked out nearly quarter of the nation’s refining capacity in August, pressuring demand for crude oil, the primary input at refineries.
Prices climbed to multi-month highs late last week and had remained supported until recently by bullish demand forecasts from OPEC and the International Energy Agency.
The commodity got an additional boost on Wednesday, when Iraqi oil minister Jabar al-Luaibi said that his country and other OPEC members are considering options to its production-cut agreement, including an extension beyond March and a deeper output cut.
Traders were now looking ahead to a meeting scheduled in Vienna on Friday between OPEC and other producers regarding a possible extension of production caps.
Last May, Opec and non-Opec members agreed to extend production cuts for a period of nine months until March, but stuck to production cuts of 1.8 million bpd agreed in November last year.
Elsewhere, gasoline futures gained slipped 0.26% to $1.643 a gallon, while natural gas futures fell 0.36% to $3.083 per million British thermal units.