25 November 2014, News Wires – Brent crude oil prices steadied around $80 a barrel on Tuesday ahead of a meeting of OPEC nations to decide on oil production levels for next year.
Oil market watchers are divided on the outcome of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting this Thursday in Vienna.
Predictions range from a large production cut to revive prices, to a small reduction, or none at all.
Oil prices have fallen by almost a third since June and are far below what most OPEC members and rival producers such as Russia need to balance their budgets.
Several OPEC members want the group to cut production dramatically to ease a global supply glut, but Saudi Arabia, the biggest exporter, appears reluctant to endorse a big cut.
Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said on Tuesday OPEC would seek a “consensual step” to bring stability to the oil market.
“This is arguably the most important OPEC meeting since the 2008/09 crisis,” Virendra Chauhan, an oil analyst at London-based consultancy Energy Aspects, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum. “Claims of advanced knowledge about a cut and its size are a guesstimate at best.”
Brent was trading at $79.90 a barrel by 1345 GMT, up 22 cents, while US crude was 17 cents higher at $75.95.
“The rapid growth now being achieved in non-OPEC production means it faces the risk that even a large cut to supply may not be enough to support prices and could simply result in lost market share and revenue,” Barclays Bank analysts said.
“Saudi Arabia’s response so far to falling oil prices is an acknowledgment that it is less able to influence oil prices than at any time over the past decade,” they added in a note.
Economic data were mixed for oil.
US economic growth was far stronger than initially thought in the third quarter, revised up to 3.9 % on Tuesday, the Commerce Department said.
Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, posted modest growth in the third quarter to avoid recession, data showed on Tuesday.
But a gradual slowdown in China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, weighed on oil.
Credit ratings agency Moody’s said on Tuesday a steep economic slowdown in China could hurt sovereign borrowers with a heavy reliance on oil exports to China such as Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.