Picture: 123RF/EVGENI BASHTA
Picture: 123RF/EVGENI BASHTA

London — Oil prices fell on Friday fueled by concerns about rising supplies next year, although losses were checked by signs of progress towards ending the US-Chinese trade row.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday that a deal is “getting close”, citing what he described as very constructive discussions with Beijing.

Benchmark Brent crude was down 43c at $61.85 a barrel by 11.01am GMT, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slipped 22c to $56.55 a barrel.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) weighed on prices, by saying oil cartel Opec and its allies (Opec+), face “a major challenge in 2020 as demand for their crude is expected to fall sharply”.

Opec secretary-general Mohammad Barkindo had painted a more upbeat picture this week, saying growth in rival US production would slow in 2020, although a report by the group had also said demand for Opec oil was expected to dip.

Opec+ has cut supply to prop up prices and is expected to discuss output policy at a meeting on December 5-6 in Vienna. The existing production deal runs until March 2020.

“Will they maintain cuts or go deeper? If Opec doesn’t budge, we’ll see a significant stock build in the first half,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, global head of markets strategy at BNP Paribas.

He said it is still not clear how long it will take for any deal to end the US-China trade row, which has weighed on the global economy and undermined demand for fuel. “Essentially we’ve had a range-bound market for the last nine sessions due to the lack of clarity on these two key issues,” Tchilinguirian said.

Opec said demand for its crude would average 29.58-million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, 1.12-million bpd less than in 2019, pointing to a 2020 surplus of about 70,000 bpd.

US production has continued climbing, reaching a weekly record of 12.8-million bpd last week, while US oil inventories rose faster than expected last week.

However, rising US output and competition from production in Brazil, Norway and Guyana in 2020 has been squeezing profits for US shale producers, which plan another spending freeze in 2020 and a slowdown in production growth.

Reuters