Crude oil prices, on Friday, January 13, slumped on lingering doubts over the extent of OPEC cuts, with sentiment worsened by concerns over the economic health of the world’s second-largest oil consumer, China.
Despite China’s demand, overall exports, the country’s economic backbone fell by 7.7 percent last year in what was the second annual decline in a row and the worst since the depths of the global crisis in 2009.
Record Chinese crude imports of 8.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in December helped to buoy prices somewhat, traders said, but they could not hide underlying fears over the overall health of the world’s second-biggest economy.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled down 64 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $52.37. For the week, it ended about
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were trading down 58 cents, or 1 percent, at $55.43 a barrel at 2:34 p.m. ET (1934 GMT) on Friday.
Exports of Chinese refined oil products last month rose nearly 25 percent year-on-year to a record 5.4 million tonnes, well above November’s previous record of 4.9 million tonnes.
On the supply side, there was some market support from top crude exporter Saudi Arabia, which said that its output had fallen below 10 million bpd to levels last seen in February 2015 and that it expects to make even deeper cuts next month.
Several other OPEC members, including Iraq and Kuwait, said they were implementing the deal. Separately, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the country was starting to implement its own planned cuts, in conjunction with an agreement among non-OPEC producers to reduce output.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said on Friday he was confident oil producers would observe an agreement under which OPEC and non-OPEC producers have agreed to lower their oil output in order to support prices.