Keep Oil Flowing, Says Trump Ahead Of Oil-Exporting Nations' Group Meet


A pumpjack operates above an oil well at night in the Bakken Formation on the outskirts of Williston, North Dakota, U.S., on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

OPEC meets in Vienna on the verge of an oil production cut that would defy U.S. President Donald Trump's plea to keep the taps open.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $61.37 per barrel at 0240 GMT, down 71 cents, or 1.1 percent from their last close.

Oil prices fell 1 percent on Wednesday, weighed down by swelling United States inventories and a plunge in global stock markets as China's government warned of increasing economic headwinds.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at 52.38 dollars per barrel, down 51 cents, or 1 per cent.

Brian Hook, the senior USA official overseeing sanctions against Iran, met with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Wednesday morning in the Austrian capital, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Russia's oil production slipped last month to 11.369 million barrels per day, from the record highs that it pumped in October of 11.41 million bpd, according to preliminary data released from Russia's federal state budgetary organization CDU TEK this last weekend.

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Ministers from the core OPEC group, which doesn't include Russian Federation, will meet on Thursday to seek a consensus on exactly who will cut and by how much.

In the latest sign of a clogged market, Asian gasoline refining margins have plunged to their weakest levels in seven years - so low that churning out this key motor fuel has become a loss-making business.

Oil prices were down on Wednesday, as OPEC has failed to give the market a clear signal that it will cut production, and that Russian Federation would be on board with a production cut as well, should one be implemented. "Being too cautious on the words, to please President Trump, runs however the risk of diluting the message", said Olivier Jakob from Petromatrix consultancy.

Yet the truce may not last. It is the United States where we are seeing the bulk of the increase in oil output.

In Asian powerhouse Japan, the economy is expected to have contracted more again in the third quarter, with the slowdown deepening, a poll showed on Wednesday, with Q3 annualised GDP expected to fall by 1.9%.

Russia's second-largest oil producer, Lukoil PJSC, is ready to comply with any request from the Kremlin but hopes output cuts won't be necessary, said Chief Executive Officer Vagit Alekperov.

Bank of America said it expected Brent and WTI prices to average $70 and $59 per barrel respectively in 2019. Brent and WTI have averaged $72.80 and $66.10 per barrel so far this year.