23 March 2015 – Oil prices dropped about a percentage point in early Asian trade on Monday after Saudi Arabia said over the weekend that it would not unilaterally cut its output to defend prices.
Benchmark Brent crude oil futures were trading at $54.79 a barrel early on Monday down 53 cents from their last settlement. US WTI crude was down 58 cents at $45.99 a barrel.
Since oil prices started to fall in June 2014, many analysts have expected Saudi Arabia, Opec’s biggest producer, to curb its output.
Yet Riyadh has so far opted to keep output stable in a move to defend market share against non-Opec producers like Russia and the US, where production has soared as a result of the shale exploration boom.
“We tried, we held meetings and we did not succeed because countries (outside Opec) were insisting that Opec carry the burden and we refuse that Opec bears the responsibility,” Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi.
“The production of Opec is 30% of the market, 70% from non-Opec … everybody is supposed to participate if we want to improve prices.”