Oil prices halted their rally on Monday, with both benchmarks down nearly 1 percent, after Russia’s finance minister said Russia and OPEC may decide to boost production to fight for market share with the United States, where output remains at record highs.
Losses were limited by a tightening of global supplies, as output has fallen in Iran and Venezuela amid signs the United States will further toughen sanctions on those two OPEC producers, and on the threat that renewed fighting could wipe out crude production in Libya..
Brent crude futures were at $71.05 a barrel by 12:11 p.m. EDT (1611 GMT), down 50 cents, or 0.7 percent, having earlier slid below $71 per barrel. Brent hit its highest since Nov. 12 on Friday at $71.87. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 74 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $63.15 per barrel.
Oil prices have been lifted by more than 30 percent this year, mainly due to a deal by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, to curb by 1.2 million barrels per day from Jan. 1 for six months. The group will meet in June to decide whether to continue withholding supply.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said over the weekend that Russia and OPEC may decide to boost production to fight for market share with the United States, but this would push oil as low as $40 per barrel.
“There is a dilemma. What should we do with OPEC: should we lose the market, which is being occupied by the Americans, or quit the deal?” Anton Siluanov, speaking in Washington, said, TASS reported. —Reuters