Oil prices fall a 10th day

Crude’s de­cline means lower gaso­line costs in U.S.


oil prices fell Fri­day for a 10th-con­sec­u­tive day, the long­est los­ing streak on record.

Fu­tures in New York tum­bled 0.8 per­cent to set­tle at $60.19 a bar­rel. West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate crude ear­lier this week fell into a bear mar­ket on con­cerns sup­plies are go­ing to over­whelm the mar­ket, as the U.S. of­fered na­tions waivers to con­tinue buy­ing Ira­nian oil. Brent crude, used to price in­ter­na­tional oils, fell 0.7 per­cent to $70.20 a bar­rel in Lon­don.

Crude’s slump from its early-Oc­to­ber peak above $76 a bar­rel comes as U.S. pro­duc­tion is at a record and OPEC out­put is at its high­est level since 2016.

Gaso­line prices have been slowly fall­ing in re­cent weeks. The na­tional av­er­age price for a gal­lon of gaso­line Fri­day was $2.72, down from $2.91 a month ago, ac­cord­ing to auto club AAA. A gal­lon was sell­ing Fri­day for about $2.48 in Arkansas, on av­er­age, down from $2.67 a month ago but higher than the $2.30 a gal­lon av­er­age a year ago.

U.S. oil has given up all its gains for the year. The record run of de­clines in U.S. oil prices will push the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Pe­tro­leum Ex­port­ing Coun­tries and its al­lies, in­clud­ing Rus­sia, into a cor­ner as they meet this week­end. OPEC min­is­ters and al­lies are gath­er­ing in Abu Dhabi in a highly-an­tic­i­pated meet­ing that could yield a de­ci­sion on fu­ture sup­ply cuts.

De­spite an­nounced sanc­tions, more Ira­nian crude might make it to mar­ket than pre­vi­ously thought.

“The Ira­nian sanc­tions were sup­posed to be a game changer in the mar­ket,” said Michael Loewen, a com­modi­ties strate­gist at Sco­tia­bank in Toronto. Pro­duc­ers have been “at­tempt­ing to pump as much oil as pos­si­ble right now to soften the blow.”

A po­ten­tial agree­ment by OPEC to re­turn to out­put cuts would mark the sec-

ond pro­duc­tion U-turn for the group this year. For Saudi Ara­bia — the world’s big­gest crude ex­porter — it would be the third time in re­cent years that the king­dom has de­liv­ered a sup­ply surge only to quickly re­verse it.

Ex­emp­tions to the Ira­nian sanc­tions mean at least some sup­plies from Iran, OPEC’s third-big­gest pro­ducer, will keep flow­ing into in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. Ira­nian ex­ports have plunged al­most 40 per­cent since April — the month be­fore Wash­ing­ton an­nounced the curbs. In a bid to keep cus­tomers, the state-run Na­tional Ira­nian Oil Co. has been of­fer­ing record dis­counts on its crude.

Al­most all ma­jor buy­ers of Iran’s oil had ne­go­ti­ated with the U.S. for the waivers, ar­gu­ing that cut­ting pur­chases to zero would af­fect their en­ergy in­dus­tries and boost fuel costs. U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo has de­fended the ex­emp­tions and said the cam­paign by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to pres­sure Iran has al­ready re­duced ex­ports by over 1 mil­lion bar­rels a day and they’ll con­tinue to shrink.

In­dia, China and South Korea, three of Asia’s top four buy­ers, got waivers al­low­ing them to pur­chase a com­bined 860,000 bar­rels a day. The lev­els for Ja­pan, Italy and Greece are yet to be con­firmed. Turkey got waivers for about 60,000 a day, far less than it bought in 2017.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/MITCHELL PE MASILUN

Mo­torists fuel up Fri­day at the Mur­phy Ex­press on West Per­sh­ing Boule­vard in North Lit­tle Rock as U.S. gaso­line prices con­tinue their slow fall.

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