Oil up 7 percent as market awaits details of first OPEC production cut in eight years
By Jessica Resnick-Ault
New York (Reuters) – Oil prices rose more than 7 percent on Wednesday as some of the world’s largest oil producers agreed to curb oil output for the first time since 2008 in a last-ditch bid to support prices.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose $3.36 to $48.59 a barrel, a 7.4 percent gain by 10:19 a.m. WTI prices traded at a high point for the day of $49.12 and a low of $45.22 a barrel
Brent crude futures for January delivery rose $3.63 to $50.01 a barrel, a 7.8 percent gain, recovering from a drop of nearly 4 percent on Tuesday and on course for their biggest one-day move in nine months. Brent crude for delivery in February was up $3.58 at $50.90 a barrel.
The market was still awaiting details on the exact size of each member’s cuts from the meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to finalize its first output limiting deal in eight years.
Key OPEC member Saudi Arabia said it was prepared to accept “a big hit” on its own production and agree to arch-rival Iran freezing output at pre-sanctions levels.
A new wild-card was the suspension of Indonesia from OPEC Tuesday, sources said. The organization has agreed to distribute Indonesia’s oil output share among certain OPEC countries. Indonesia produced about 730,000 barrels per day in October, according to an OPEC survey from Reuters.
“It does rather look as though OPEC is going to come to an agreement,” said Colin Smith, director of oil and gas research at Panmure Gordon in London.
U.S.-listed oil companies including Exxon Mobil Corp , Chevron Corp and Schlumberger saw shares rise as crude prices climbed. Some U.S. producers saw shares spike more than 10 percent, including Pioneer Natural Resources , Hess Corp and Anadarko Petroleum .
A preliminary agreement struck in Algiers in September set an output cap at around 32.5-33 million barrels per day compared with the current 33.64 million bpd.
A weekly government report on U.S. crude oil stockpiles had little sway in the market, which remained focused on the OPEC deal. U.S. crude stockpiles unexpectedly fell 884,000 barrels in the week, compared with expectations of a 636,000 barrel increase. [EIA/S]
Before Wednesday’s meeting, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC was indeed focusing on reducing output to a ceiling of 32.5 million bpd and hoped Russia and other non-OPEC producers would contribute a cut of another 0.6 million bpd.
“I think the market is in a wait and see mode,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital in New York. “We’re going to have to see these cuts truly get implemented. The production trend has been higher,” he said.
In addition to uncertainty around the allocation of Indonesia’s production share, Iraq seems to be awaiting further guidance from Baghdad before signing a deal, he said.
“The extent of the (price) move shows no one wants to miss the boat. There must be a general consensus that there will be a cut, whether it’s going to be bullish, I don’t know, but it’s the domino effect,” PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga said.
Traders said markets were jittery and prices could swing sharply in either direction depending on developments in Vienna.
Iran and Iraq have been resisting pressure from Saudi Arabia to curtail production, making it harder for the group to reach an agreement on output cuts.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs, Barclays, and ANZ said oil prices would quickly fall to the low $40s a barrel if OPEC fails to strike a deal to cut output.
In line with banks’ analysis, the market is being skittish about driving prices up before a deal is finalized.
“If this is supposed to represent a sea-change the prices aren’t reflecting that right now for sure,” Kilduff said.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper and Karolin Schaps in London, Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Chizu Nomiyama)