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.
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.