• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Oil falls as Goldman cuts outlook while Venezuela seeks OPEC action

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Oil fell to the lowest level in more than 5 1/2 years after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. And Societe Generale SA reduced their price forecasts and Venezuela called on OPEC producers to work together to spur a rebound.

West Texas Intermediate decreased as much as 3.9 percent, and Brent 4 percent, after dropping a seventh week. Crude has to “stay lower for longer” if investment in shale is to be curtailed to re-balance the global market, according to Goldman analysts.

Prices need to return to $100 a barrel for economic equilibrium, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in Iran during a tour of Middle Eastern OPEC members.

“The price forecast cuts by both Goldman and Societe Generale reinforce the fears that have driven us down to these levels,” Gene McGillian, a senior analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut, said.“We’re hunting for a bottom, but it’s anyone’s guess where that will be.”

Oil slumped almost 50 percent last year, the most since the 2008 financial crisis, amid a supply glut estimated by Qatar at 2 million barrels a day. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries is battling a U.S. shale boom by resisting production cuts, signalling it’s prepared to let prices fall to a level that slows American output that’s surged to the highest level in more than three decades.

Brent for February settlement dropped $1.88, or 3.8 percent, to $48.23 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract reached $48.13, the least since April 2009. Volume for all futures traded was 50 percent higher than the 100-day average. The European benchmark crude traded at a $1.54 premium to WTI, the least since Oct. 16.

WTI will trade at $41 a barrel and Brent at $42 in three months, Goldman said in a report distributed Monday, citing excess U.S. storage capacity and predicting inventories will increase over the first half of this year. It also cut its price estimates for six and 12 months.

“To keep all capital sidelined and curtail investment in shale until the market has re-balanced, we believe prices need to stay lower for longer,” said Goldman analysts including Jeffrey Currie in New York. “The search for a new equilibrium in oil markets continues,” they added.

Societe Generale reduced its average WTI price for this year to $51 a barrel from $65 in a January 9 report from Michael Wittner, the bank’s New York-based head of oil research. Brent will average $55 a barrel in 2015, down from a previous estimate of $70.

Rigs seeking oil in the US decreased by 61 to 1,421, Baker Hughes Inc. said Jan. 9, extending the five-week decline to 154. It was the largest drop since February 1991, which also followed a slide in prices before the start of the Persian Gulf War.

OPEC, which supplies about 40 percent of the world’s oil, needs to reach a consensus with other producers to “converge at a common strategy to benefit the oil market and stabilise the global economy,” Maduro said in comments broadcast on state television over the weekend.

The 12-member group decided to maintain its collective output target at 30 million barrels a day at a meeting on November 27. It’s competing for market share amid surging output in the U.S., where production expanded to 9.14 million a day through Dec. 12, Energy Information Administration data show. That was the highest level in weekly records that started in January 1983.

Oil won’t return to $100 a barrel again, Saudi billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said, according to USA Today.

“If supply stays where it is, and demand remains weak, you’d better believe it is going to go down more,” the newspaper reported him as saying.

Gasoline futures fell 2.47 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $1.2985 a gallon, after touching $1.2885, the lowest level since March 2009. Ultra low sulfur diesel slipped 2.31 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $1.6799.