Oil Falls Ahead of OPEC Meeting

By Sarah McFarlane Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil prices eased Monday, ahead of a meeting scheduled for later this week between major crude producers, where a decision is expected on whether cuts will be extended.

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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and producers including Russia are set to meet Thursday to discuss whether to extend cuts beyond their expiration in March 2018. Russia's position is considered the wild card to the outcome.

The countries have cut output since January in an effort to drain a glut in supply.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, fell 0.3% to $63.29 a barrel on London's ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were down 0.7% at $58.55 a barrel.

"The only uncertainty is the form of cooperation between OPEC and Russia, " said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas.

Saudi Arabia supports an extension.

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"Russia has been dithering both on duration and even hinting at times the possibility of delaying a decision until next year when we have a better assessment of market fundaments," Mr. Tchilinguirian said.

Last week, Reuters reported that Russia's economy minister, Maxim Oreshkin, said the country's economic growth had been hurt by the production cut agreement.

Oil prices have surged to more than two-year highs in recent months, mainly on rising geopolitical tensions in key oil-producing countries including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, along with expectations of an extension to the production cuts.

Mr. Tchilinguirian said that as the oil price rises, Russia's currency appreciates, which reduces the external revenues of Russia in ruble terms, while there is also lower investment in a large segment of the economy.

Russia had agreed to cut around 300,000 barrels a day of production as part of the deal with OPEC.

"Anything other than an extension of the agreement would come as a big surprise and would trigger a massive price slide," Commerzbank said in a daily note.

Investors continued to monitor disruption to the Keystone pipeline carrying Canadian crude to the U.S. after a leak earlier this month. It is expected the reduced flow could cause a further fall in U.S. stocks in the Energy Information Administration's weekly update Wednesday.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock--the benchmark gasoline contract--fell 0.2% to $1.78 a gallon. ICE gasoil changed hands at $567.50 a metric ton, up $2.75 from the previous settlement.

Write to Sarah McFarlane at sarah.mcfarlane@wsj.com

Oil prices fell Monday amid uncertainty about whether OPEC and other producers will extend their cuts and as the Keystone pipeline prepared to restart.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and producers including Russia are set to meet Thursday to discuss whether to extend cuts beyond their expiration in March. Russia's position is considered the wild card to the outcome.

The countries have cut output since January in an effort to drain a glut in supply.

U.S. crude futures fell 84 cents, or 1.42%, to $58.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, snapping a three-session winning streak. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 2 cents, or 0.03%, to $63.84 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe -- breaking a four-session streak of gains.

Prices deflated after surging to a two-year high Friday. Rising geopolitical tensions in key oil-producing countries including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, along with expectations of an extension to the production cuts, have lifted prices in recent months.

Uncertainty about cooperation between OPEC and Russia is tempering investors' enthusiasm, said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas. Saudi Arabia supports an extension.

"Russia has been dithering both on duration and even hinting at times the possibility of delaying a decision until next year when we have a better assessment of market fundaments," Mr. Tchilinguirian said. Russia had agreed to cut around 300,000 barrels a day of production as part of the deal with OPEC.

Last week, Reuters reported that Russia's economy minister, Maxim Oreshkin, said the country's economic growth had been hurt by the production-cut agreement.

"The Russian position is very unclear," said John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital. "There are questions about the meeting.

Many investors have been counting on OPEC and its partners agreeing to extend their production-cut agreement through the end of next year.

"Anything other than an extension of the agreement would come as a big surprise and would trigger a massive price slide," Commerzbank said in a daily note.

Disruptions to oil supply from the Keystone pipeline helped lift prices last week. The pipeline was shut down following a leak earlier this month, and traders have been betting that the reduced flow would help relieve high levels of oil at the storage hub and pricing point in Cushing, Okla. TransCanada Corp. said Monday afternoon that oil will resume flowing through the pipeline on Tuesday, albeit at lower rates. Speculation of a restart also weighed on prices Monday, analysts said.

Gasoline futures rose 0.13 cent, or 0.07, to $1.7893 a gallon. Diesel futures fell 0.51 cent, or 0.26%, to $1.9478 a gallon.

Write to Sarah McFarlane at sarah.mcfarlane@wsj.com and Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 27, 2017 16:17 ET (21:17 GMT)