Oil Prices Hit 2018 Lows over Global Supply Glut
Oil prices slumped to 2018 lows on Friday in thin but volatile trading, dropping over concerns of a global supply overhang amid a bleak economic outlook.
Even plans by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) producer group to start withholding supply in 2019 to rein in any glut did not provide much support to hold prices up.
International benchmark Brent crude oil futures hit their lowest since December 2017 at $61.52 per barrel, before recovering to $62.10 by 0430 GMT. That was still 50 cents, or 0.8 percent below their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slumped by more than 2 percent, to $53.35 a barrel, after coming within 5 cents of an October 2017 low reached earlier in the week.
Amid the plunge, Brent and WTI price volatility has surged in November to approach levels not seen since the market slump of 2014-2016 and, before that, the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
The divergence between U.S. and international crude comes as surging North American supply is clogging the system and depressing prices there, while global markets are somewhat tighter – in part because of reduced exports from Iran due to newly imposed U.S. sanctions.
Overall, however, global oil supply has surged this year, with the top-three producers of the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia pumping out more than a third of global consumption, which stands at around 100 million barrels per day (bpd).
High production comes as the demand outlook weakens on the back of a global economic slowdown.
Oil prices have plunged by around 30 percent since their last peaks in early October, as global production started to exceed consumption in the fourth quarter of this year, ending a period of undersupply that started in the first quarter of 2017, according to data in Refinitiv Eikon.
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