Nov. 30 (UPI) — Crude oil prices were lower Friday amid ongoing concern that the market is unbalanced, with growing production and record-high exports from the United States.
West Texas Intermediate front-month futures were 2.4 percent lower at $50.20 per barrel as of 10:20 a.m. EST, while Brent front-month futures traded at $58.51 per barrel, or 2.3 percent lower, as of the same time.
“Right now we are at the top end of supply, with everyone producing as if Iran were cut off … but Iran is still pumping too. Too much supply,” Matt Badiali, a trained geologist and senior research analyst at Banyan Hill Research, said in a message sent to UPI.
“Oil is oversold — from April to September, Iran cut 830,000 barrels per day of exports. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. expanded production by more than that. The markets now think that we have plenty of oil,” he added.
The United States in May announced nuclear related sanctions aimed against Iran that were set to begin on November 5. In previous months, concerns about a potential reduction from an estimated 2.8 million barrels per day of Iranian oil exports had led to price spikes, with peaks in early October — just before Saudi Arabia said it was ramping up production to cover any potential Iranian oil export disruption.
However, on Nov. 5, as the sanctions went into effect, the United States took the market by surprise as it announced waivers to eight nations, including the three biggest buyers of Iranian oil, China, India and South Korea. Prices that had already declined in most of October, from an $86 per Brent barrel peak on Oct. 3, continued to plunge throughout November.
In addition, the United States — which earlier this year became the world’s biggest crude oil producer — has announced increases in crude oil production and crude oil products exports, increasing the concern about an oversupplied market.
“The U.S., which was a net importer of petroleum products until 2011, saw net products exported increasing to 4.3 million barrels per day, which is also a record high,” independent analyst Lakshan De Silva said, citing weekly data released Wednesday for the week ended Nov. 23.
The United States was able to increase production in recent years after technology advances that allowed extraction activity of unconventional oil found in shale formations.
U.S. crude imports were stable at 8.2 million barrels per day while crude exports continued to rise at 2.4 million barrels per day, De Silva added. “It is important to note that U.S. produced as of mid-November 11.7 million barrels per day, a 2-million-barrel-per-day increase from last year,” he said.
The market is awaiting information that could come out of the G20 meeting starting Friday in Argentina, particularly from any talks between leaders of oil producing nations, like Saudi Arabia and Russia, that could advance the possibility of production cuts.
On December 6, there will be an OPEC meeting in Vienna where traders have anticipated it is likely that a decision to cut output could be taken in a bid to push prices higher.