Oil trades near $76 as OPEC split deepens

June 13th, 2018

Brent crude futures for August settlement fell 36 cents to $76.10 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange as producing countries disagreed over relaxing output curbs and OPEC highlighted the uncertainty over the strength of demand later this year.

WTI traded at $66 per barrel, futures in New York fell 0.2 percent after a 0.6 percent increase Monday. Saudi Arabia and Russia are trying to garner support for lifting production limits, while Iraq joined Venezuela and Iran in coming out against the proposal. In its monthly market report, OPEC emphasized the deep uncertainty over the strength of demand for its oil, a move that could give ammunition to opponents of an output increase just a week before contentious talks in Vienna.

Oil has slumped since late May after Saudi Arabia and Russia signaled they’re ready to loosen output curbs to make up for potential supply disruptions from other producers. Both nations, which have already started to boost production, may propose a gradual increase when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies meet June 22-23 in Vienna.

“The stage is set for a heated conference,” said Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd. in London.

West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery traded at $65.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 14 cents, at 7:55 a.m. Total volume traded was about 16 percent below the 100-day average.

Brent futures for August settlement fell 36 cents to $76.10 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark traded at a $10.19 premium to WTI for the same month.

Futures on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange advanced 1 percent to 472.1 yuan a barrel, after falling 0.2 percent on Monday.

The split among OPEC members appears to be deepening ahead of the key meeting in Vienna later this month. Iraq “rejects unilateral decisions made by some producers which do not consult with the rest,” Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said in a statement. That came after Iran and Venezuela — both subject to U.S. sanctions — wrote to OPEC members urging them to unite against pressure from America to ease the curbs.

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