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Oil Prices Slide as Saudi Cuts and OPEC+ Output Rise Stir Market

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price witnessed a notable decline, nearing $73.00, influenced by strategic moves in the global oil market.

Key Points:

  • 📉 WTI Price Drop: Faced with Saudi Arabia’s price cuts for Arab Light Crude to Asia, WTI prices show a downturn.
  • 🛢️ OPEC+ Output Increase: A significant rise in OPEC+ oil production, totaling 70,000 bpd in December, adds to market supply.
  • 🌍 Global Tensions: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken raises concerns over the potential regional spread of the Gaza conflict.

In a turn of events shaping the energy sector, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have retreated from recent highs, trading close to $73.00 per barrel in the Asian trading session on Monday. The price dynamics in the crude oil market are currently under the influence of several key factors, including Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to reduce the prices of its Arab Light Crude to Asia.

This strategic pricing move by Saudi Arabia, a leading oil exporter, plays a significant role in adjusting global oil price benchmarks. In conjunction with these price cuts, there has been an uptick in the oil output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+), as reported by a Reuters survey. The survey indicates a rise of approximately 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December, pushing the total output to 27.88M bpd.

WTI Daily Chart

The increment in production is notably driven by Iraq, Angola, and Nigeria, with these countries reporting a surge in their export shipments of crude oil. This increase in output is seen as a counterbalance to the ongoing production cuts implemented by Saudi Arabia and other members of the OPEC+ alliance. Notably, the survey findings reveal that Saudi Arabia has slightly reduced its production, bringing it below the 9M bpd mark, in addition to maintaining a voluntary 1M bpd output cut, as part of its strategy to steer global oil prices.

In a recent development, Saudi Arabia announced a decrease in the February Official Selling Price (OSP) of its flagship Arab Light crude to Asia. This decision marks the lowest price level in over two years and underscores the kingdom’s approach to navigating the complex global oil market.

The geopolitical landscape adds another layer of complexity to the oil market. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels’ recent actions, which involved launching anti-ship ballistic missiles at a container ship in the southern Red Sea heading towards Israel, have raised supply concerns. These events heighten the geopolitical tensions in the region, particularly affecting maritime routes critical for oil transportation.

Furthermore, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has sounded an alarm over the ongoing Gaza conflict. He cautioned that without effective peace efforts, the conflict could potentially escalate and spread across the wider region. Blinken’s warning highlights the interconnectedness of geopolitical dynamics and their impact on global commodity markets, including oil.

In summary, the oil market remains sensitive to a blend of factors ranging from OPEC+ production decisions to geopolitical tensions, each playing a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of crude oil prices globally.