WTI oil price slides under $50 per barrel

WTI oil price slides under $50 per barrel”

"The key question is how quickly and by how much", a source familiar with the discussions between the Russian energy ministry and local oil companies told Reuters on Thursday.

"Most people agreed that we can not reduce immediately, it needs to be a gradual process like last time", said the source, who asked not to be identified as he is forbidden from speaking to the media. Lukoil, Tatneft, Surgutneftegas, Gazprom and Novatek did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The biggest snag in OPEC's push for a consensus on cutting oil output could come from relentless growth in supply from its second-biggest producer, Iraq.

West Texas Intermediate for January delivery fell 91 cents to $50.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:47 a.m., taking WTI's decline this month to 22 percent.

Brent crude futures (LCOc1) rose 75 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $59.51 a barrel, after touching an intraday high of $60.37 a barrel.

If Russia bore the same proportion of such cuts as it did under the existing agreement, its share of the reduction would amount to 166,000 bpd.

Saudi Arabia dampened hopes of production cuts by OPEC and its allies by saying on Wednesday that it would not act alone and Nigeria stopped short of committing to a new push to curb supplies.

Oil traded down to below $60 a barrel on Wednesday, pressured by rising United States stocks and questions over whether OPEC will agree on out put cuts.

Possibly complicating any decision at next week's talks is the crisis around the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. That would be the US benchmark's worst showing since October 2008.

While Putin praised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and said Moscow is ready to cooperate further, he said crude around $60 a barrel is "balanced and fair" and well above the level needed to to keep his government's budget in surplus.

Russia's latest budget had been built on the assumption of oil at $40, he said.

"Putin's comments raised speculation that Russian Federation may not join its fellow producers in curbing production", Sungchil Will Yun, Seoul-based commodity analyst at HI Investment & Futures, said by phone.

While Saudi Arabia and its Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih have been airing the idea of a new production cut, Russian Federation has been less convinced that it could take part in another reduction, or at least so it lets the market to believe.

"We generally have our reservations about the likelihood of a 2016-style cooperation this time around, though the Russian position will undoubtedly be crucial", JBC Energy think-tank said in a note.

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