Brent crude skids to lowest since 2004

Reuters Singapore | Updated on January 22, 2018


Brent crude prices fell to their lowest in more than 11 years on Monday, hounded by a relentless rise in global supply that looks set to outpace demand again next year.

Oil production is running close to record highs and, with fresh barrels poised to enter the market from the likes of Iran, the United States and Libya, the price of crude is set for its largest monthly percentage decline in seven years.

While consumers have enjoyed lower fuel prices, producers have hacked back spending and cut thousands of jobs, while exporting nations have suffered tumbling revenue.

Brent futures fell by about 2 per cent to as low as $36.05 per barrel on Monday, their weakest since July 2004, and were down 45 cents at $36.43 at 0905 GMT.

Brent crude futures haven fallen more than 18.5 per cent this month, their steepest fall since the collapse of failed US bank Lehman Brothers in October 2008.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures dropped 33 cents to $34.40 a barrel, their lowest since 2009.

“Really, I wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of an oil exporter getting into 2016. It’s not exactly looking as if there is light at the end of the tunnel any time soon,’’ Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.

“For every dollar we move lower, that brings forward increased stress in the system.’’

Oil prices have halved over the past year, shredding the finances of oil producers such as Nigeria, which faces its worst economic crisis in years, or Venezuela, which has been plunged into deep recession.

Even wealthy Gulf Arab states have been hit. Last week top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain raised interest rates as they scrambled to protect their currencies.

On Monday, Iraq devalued its dinar currency to offset the impact of lower oil, while Azerbaijan ditched its currency peg after burning through more than half its foreign exchange reserves this year.

Morgan Stanley said that “the hope for a rebalancing in 2016 continues to suffer serious setbacks’’. It cited US output being “more resilient than most models originally indicated’’.

US oil supply will make its way to global markets in the coming year after the government voted to lift a 40-year-old restriction on crude exports, but it will face stiff competition for market share.

Russia now pumps more than 10 million barrels per day (bpd), the most since the collapse of the Soviet Union, while OPEC output is close to record levels above 31.5 million bpd and well above the cartel's notional target of 30 million bpd.

Iran will add to global supply when it resumes shipments next year after the lifting of international sanctions, while a peace deal in Libya could lead to higher exports.

Published on December 21, 2015

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