OIL PRICES FALL AS OPEC PRODUCTION HITS RECORD HIGH

Oil prices fell Thursday after the International Energy Agency reported record production from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries members and subdued expectations for demand growth.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery settled down 61 cents, or 1.4%, at $44.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 52 cents, or 1.1%, to $45.84 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

The IEA’s monthly report showed OPEC members pumped a record 33.83 million barrels a day in October, making the scale of the output cut needed to stabilize prices being discussed by the group’s members later in November look increasingly challenging.

“The IEA didn’t change its forecast in terms of global oil demand, so the growth outlook is fairly lackluster,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity strategy at BNP Paribas SA. “That means that the issue of excess supply that permeates markets currently is going to extend into next year.”

An oil tanker escorted by tug boats into the harbor in Long Beach, California. Oil prices were steady on Thursday after data showing record output from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in October.

An oil tanker escorted by tug boats into the harbor in Long Beach, California. Oil prices were steady on Thursday after data showing record output from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in October. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

OPEC is set to meet Nov. 30 to approve a plan to cap the group’s production to between 32.5 million to 33 million barrels a day. But traders have been selling in recent weeks as output surged despite the promises of a cut.

Even if an agreement is signed, enforcement of individual production quotas could be weak. With many key producers already pumping close to peak capacity, freezing output at these levels wouldn’t help abate the overhang soon, according to many bearish traders.

“They’re trying to come up with a deal, butpumping more oil out than it ever had,” saidMark Waggoner, president of brokerage Excel Futures. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

A Trump presidency could also lead to lower oil prices for longer given his strong support for fracking in the U.S. The president-elect has favored plans to lift restrictions on tapping energy reserves, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and cancel billions in payment to the United Nations climate-change programs. The move will likely buoy crude production in the U.S., analysts said.

U.S. crude production is already on an uptrend as producers are eager to capture the rising prices. The Energy Information Administration this week raised the forecast on U.S. crude output, saying production would fall slower than expected, led by a ramp-up in drilling in west Texas.

The agency now expects U.S. oil output to average 8.84 million barrels a day this year and 8.73 million barrels a day next year, up from its earlier forecasts of 8.73 million in 2016 and 8.59 million in 2017.

That, combined with the output from international exporters has spread pessimism about the end of oversupply.

“The optimism continues to wane,” said Donald Morton, senior vice president at Herbert J. Sims & Co., who runs an energy-trading desk. “And the pessimism continues to expand. And the trading community sells all rallies aggressively.”

Gasoline futures lost 1.95 cents, or 1.4%, to $1.3377, its seventh-straight losing session and lowest settlement since Sept. 6.

WSJ

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