Sun | Dec 11, 2016

Oil price takes another dive

Published:Thursday | December 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The price of oil took another dive on Wednesday, plunging to five-year lows amid mounting evidence that global supplies are far outstripping demand.

The US Energy Department reported a surprise increase in domestic oil inventories and OPEC projected that next year, demand for its crude would sink to levels not seen in more than a decade.

Benchmark US crude slumped five per cent, or US$3.07, to US$60.75 a barrel on Wednesday. Prices have not been that low since July of 2009. US crude prices have fallen 17 per cent in two weeks and are now 43 per cent below the US$107.26 that a barrel fetched at its peak this year.

Brent crude, an international benchmark used to price oil used in many US refineries, fell US$2.91 to US$63.93 in London.

Energy analyst and trader Stephen Schork said in an interview that he expects that the combination of weak economic news out of Asia and growing global supplies will push oil down further, to below US$60, by the end of the week. "It's the proverbial 'trying to catch a falling dagger' and I'm not going to try to catch it," he said.

OPEC said Wednesday that it expects demand for its crude to fall to 28.9 million barrels per day next year, 400,000 barrels per day less than in 2014. The cartel's official production target is 30 million barrels a day, which would mean far more oil on the world market than is being consumed.

Also on Wednesday, the Energy Department reported a surprise increase in US crude supplies of 1.5 million barrels last week. Analysts were expecting a decline of 2.2 million barrels. Gasolene stocks also increased more than expected.

Falling oil prices are making for sharply lower gasolene, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil prices and giving consumers, shippers and airlines a lift.

But the lower oil prices are also taking their toll on oil producers, sending company shares plummeting and forcing companies to cut spending. BP said Wednesday it would aim to cut costs by US$1 billion next year, a move that would likely involve significant job cuts.

- AP