Oil wipes out gains on fading hopes for output limit


Oil and gas price slide a challenge - A view of the Repsol oil rig off the coast of the Canary Islands, Spain, 16 January 2015. Photo: Cristobal Garcia/EPA

Oil prices turned lower in late trade Friday as hopes fizzled for a fix in the global oversupply that could support prices.

Prices had jumped Thursday after Venezuela raised expectations that it and other major producers would meet in March to try to find ways to stabilize the market.

The US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in April fell 29 cents to $32.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. 

In London, Brent North Sea crude for April delivery, the European benchmark for oil, dropped to $35.10 a barrel, down 19 cents from Thursday's settlement.

Oil prices climbed sharply in morning trade after US economic growth data for the fourth quarter was upwardly revised to a 1.0 percent annual rate, much better than expected. But the spike was short-lived.

Kyle Cooper at IAF Advisors said that the market had "gone too far" with a nearly 12 percent gain in the WTI April contract from last Friday through Thursday.

A big catalyst had been Venezuelan oil minister Eulogio Del Pino's comments Thursday suggesting output talks by major producers would take place next month.

Venezuela, along with OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Qatar and non-OPEC Russia, announced last week a preliminary deal to freeze output at January levels, provided that other major producers followed suit.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest oil producer, has ruled out a production cut and Iran has dismissed the idea it could join a freeze.

"The hype behind the headlines about freezing oil production doesn't appear very factual," Cooper said.

In the United States the number of active oil rigs dropped by 13 this week to 400, down 75 percent from the 2014 peak, oil service provider Baker Hughes said Friday.

"Drilling activity in the US is currently at its lowest ebb since December 2009," Commerzbank said. "It is therefore clear that US oil production will continue to decline."

(AFP)

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