SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Friday, pulled down by OPEC's decision to delay a final decision on output cuts, awaiting support from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia.
International Brent crude oil futures fell below US$60 per barrel early in the session, trading at $59.50 per barrel at 0144 GMT, down 56 cents, or 0.9 percent from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.24 per barrel, down 25 cents, or 0.5 percent.
The declines came after crude slumped by almost 3 percent the previous day, with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ending a meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday without announcing a decision to cut crude supply, instead preparing to debate the matter on Friday.
"OPEC has decided to meet Friday again...(as) Russia remains the sticking point," said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.
Analysts still expect some form of supply reduction to be decided.
"We are beginning to witness the outline of the next iteration of production cuts, with OPEC conforming to cut its own production by around 1 million barrels per day, with the cartel lobbying non-OPEC members to contribute more," Japanese bank MUFG said in a note.
SUPPLY SURGE, PRICE PLUNGE
Oil producers have been hit by a 30-percent plunge in crude prices since October as supply surges just as the demand outlook weakens amid a global economic slowdown.
Oil output from the world's biggest producers - OPEC, Russia and the United States - has increased by 3.3 million bpd since the end of 2017, to 56.38 million bpd, meeting almost 60 percent of global consumption.
That increase alone is equivalent to the output of major OPEC producer the United Arab Emirates.
The surge is largely down to soaring U.S. crude oil production, which has jumped by 2.5 million bpd since early 2016 to a record 11.7 million bpd, making the United States the world's biggest oil producer.
As a result, the United States last week exported more crude oil and fuel than it imported for the first time on records going back to 1973, according to data released on Thursday. - Reuters
Oil dives nearly 3% after Opec delays output decision
NEW YORK: Oil fell nearly 3 percent in choppy trading on Thursday after OPEC and its allies ended a meeting without announcing a decision to cut crude output, and prepared to debate the matter the next day.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries met in Vienna to decide production policy in coordination with other countries including Russia, Oman and Kazakhstan.
OPEC tentatively agreed to cut oil output but was waiting for a commitment from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia before deciding volumes.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak flew home from Vienna earlier for talks with President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg. Novak returns to Austria's capital on Friday for discussions among Saudi-led OPEC and its allies.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC needed Russia to cooperate, and said a decision was likely by Friday evening.
"If everybody is not willing to join and contribute equally, we will wait until they are," al-Falih said.
Market watchers had expected a joint cut of 1 million to 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd). The OPEC, non-OPEC meeting is set to start on Friday at 1100 GMT.
"All eyes are now fixated on tomorrow's OPEC+ joint declaration, and a combined output cut of at least 1 million barrels per day will be required to see a meaningful recovery in oil prices," said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy in London.
Brent crude futures fell $1.50, or 2.4 percent, to $60.06 a barrel, after dropping to a session low of $58.36. U.S. crude futures fell $1.40, or 2.7 percent, to $51.49, bouncing off a low of $50.08.
The benchmarks have slumped more than 25 percent so far this quarter.
Prices found some support after data showed U.S. crude stockpiles declined last week, the first drawdown since September. Inventories had climbed for 10 straight weeks as domestic production grew to a weekly record at 11.7 million bpd, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed.
The United States, however, last week became a net exporter of crude and refined products for the first time since at least 1973, exporting a net 211,000 bpd, on the back of a jump in crude exports to a record of 3.2 million bpd, the data showed.
Crude prices have sagged almost a third since October, in part due to concerns about oversupply coming to the fore again as U.S. production rose in tandem with increased output from Saudi Arabia and Russia. The three countries are the world's largest producers of oil.
OPEC's crude oil production has risen by 4.1 percent since mid-2018, to 33.31 million bpd.
European equities hit their lowest in two years. Commodity-sensitive currencies such as the Russian rouble tumbled on sliding oil prices and the arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Canada for extradition to the United States, just ahead of crucial trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing.
Barclays said in its Global Outlook that "investors need to lower their expectations" and "2019 should be a period of lower returns and higher volatility." It forecast that the global economy would "slow over the next several quarters" although it added that "not one major economy is near recession."
Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president, macro oils at Wood Mackenzie, said world oil demand growth is expected to average close to 1.1 million bpd in 2018 and 2019.
"This sits against a backdrop of rapid non-OPEC production growth ... the strength in non-OPEC production creates pressure on OPEC to curtail its output for 2019 from recent levels, if oil prices are to remain stable," Hittle said. -Reuters