MARKET WATCH: Oil prices slump on fading hopes of production cuts

Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled down $2 on the New York Mercantile Exchange Feb. 1 while the Brent contract for April dropped $1.75 on the London market on fading hopes that major oil producers would cut production despite some talk about that from Russia days ago.

Russia oil representatives said they plan to talk with officials of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries this month. Russia spokesmen implied an oil production cut from the world’s major producers was possible. But senior OPEC officials quickly refuted suggestions about production cuts.

Russia is not an OPEC member, but OPEC member Venezuela has proposed an emergency OPEC meeting. An Iranian oil official told the Wall Street Journal that Iran would not support an emergency OPEC meeting.

“If the meeting takes place, and there is no agreement, it will have a negative impact on prices,” the Iranian official told WSJ. Iran is restarting its oil exports following the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions from Western countries. The official said Iran would not consider any immediate production cuts.

Energy prices

The March crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange declined $2 to $31.62/bbl, marking the biggest single-day loss since Jan. 6 and ending a rally in which prices had climbed for four consecutive trading sessions. The April contract fell $1.92 to $33.36/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for March fell 15¢ to $2.15/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price declined 7¢ to $2.18/MMbtu on Feb. 1.

Heating oil for March delivery fell 4¢ to a rounded $1.04/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for March was down nearly 5¢ to a rounded $1.08/gal.

The April ICE contract for Brent crude dropped $1.75 to settle at $34.24/bbl on Feb. 1, and the May contract dropped $1.79 to settle at $35.03/bbl.

The ICE gas oil contract for February was $298.75/tonne, down $5.25.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes for Feb. 1 was $29.69/bbl, up 58¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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