Oil Trades Near $40 as Iran Says OPEC Divided on Production Cut

Oil traded near $ 40 a barrel amid signs of discord in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries before a meeting in Vienna to discuss production policy.

Futures rose as much as 0.8 percent in New York, paring Wednesday’s 4.6 percent slump. A majority of OPEC members agree on a supply cut, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab countries, the Iranian oil ministry’s Shana news agency said. U.S. crude inventories expanded by 1.18 million barrels for a 10th weekly gain, according to a report from the Energy Information Administration.

Oil has declined 39 percent since Saudi Arabia led OPEC’s decision in November last year to maintain output and defend market share against higher-cost shale producers. As ministers gather for their bi-annual meeting Friday, there’s a lack of agreement on how to manage supply and stabilize the market, Shana reported, citing Mehdi Asali, the director-general of OPEC and energy forums at the ministry in Tehran.

West Texas Intermediate for January delivery was at $ 40.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 26 cents, at 8:48 a.m. Hong Kong time. The contract dropped $ 1.91 to $ 39.94 on Wednesday, the lowest close since Aug. 26. Total volume was about 57 percent below the 100-day average. Prices fell 11 percent in November.

Brent for January settlement slid $ 1.95, or 4.4 percent, to $ 42.49 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange on Wednesday, the lowest close since March 2009. The European benchmark crude ended the session at a premium of $ 2.55 to WTI.

Source: Bloomberg