Oil prices drop amid rising USA stocks, OPEC uncertainty

Oil prices drop amid rising USA stocks, OPEC uncertainty

Since early October, both crude benchmarks have lost nearly a third in value as an emerging supply glut weighs on markets, as production has surged in the United States, Russia and also by the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that "a 100 percent" success in oil production cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was largely due to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

For almost a month-since an OPEC/non-OPEC panel signaled that there might be a need to cut oil production by 1 million bpd to balance the market-Russia has warned against any hasty decisions on new production cuts and has not officially said that a cut is needed.

Brent oil prices firmed on November 30 on expectations that OPEC and Russian Federation will agree some form of production cut next week, while USA crude was weaker due to swelling inventories.

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"Trump tweets as if he has a joystick and he has everything under his command like he is playing one of these video games", said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.

"Iraq has been increasing production, but not to the extent that Saudi Arabia has done".

The counter-trend buyers may be pinning their hopes on the announcement of production cuts at next week's OPEC meeting in Vienna. "Everybody is longing (to) reach a decision that brings stability back to the market".

If he persuades major oil-producing nations to maintain their current output, "oil prices could go down to the low 40s", Kloza said. Yet, Moscow is yet to commit to any cuts and appears reluctant to shoulder as much of the burden as it did in 2016, the people said, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. "However, we might see some movement on global trade issues at the G20 meeting which starts on Friday", said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking.

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Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak met Russian oil producers this week to discuss cooperation with OPEC, two industry sources told Reuters without providing details.

Nigeria's Kachikwu told reporters it was too early to say whether OPEC member Nigeria would participate in any cuts but added that there was "absolute resolve" within the organisation to stabilise the market.

Worldwide benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 gained 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $58.82 a barrel, having dropped 2.4 percent on Wednesday to $58.76 a barrel.

"OPEC needs to cut if it wants the market to be a little less oversupplied in the first half of 2019", said Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob.

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Asked on Wednesday whether cuts could be deeper than 1.4 million bpd, Falih declined to answer. Only the headline has been changed.