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2014-11-01 12:50:00



Brent crude capped a sixth weekly loss, the longest losing streak since 2002, as OPEC boosted production to a 14-month high amid a global surplus. West Texas Intermediate posted the biggest monthly drop in more than two years.

Brent fell 9.3 percent this month, the biggest monthly decline since May 2012. U.S. crude production climbed to the highest level in at least three decades last week. Traders are split on whether Saudi Arabia will deepen the crude price cuts that propelled oil into a bear market this month.

"Fears of a supply glut and slow economic conditions continue to weigh on the market," said Gene McGillian, a senior analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. "The bears are in control and the market continues to come under pressure."

Brent for December settlement slid 38 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $85.86 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The volume of all futures was 18 percent below the 100-day average. Prices have lost 0.3 percent this week.

WTI for December delivery declined 58 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $80.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Volume was 14 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are down 12 percent this month and 0.6 percent this week. Brent ended at a premium of $5.32 to WTI on ICE, compared with $5.12 at the end of last week.

Output, Inventories

"We still have the same production issues that have been weighing on the market," said Tariq Zahir, a New York-based commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors. "We are producing so much oil that Saudi Arabia has lost the ability to talk up the market."

U.S. crude output rose to a record 8.97 million barrels a day last week, according to EIA estimates that began in January 1983. The EIA's monthly data, which goes back to 1920 and is based on data collected by state and federal agencies, shows production at the highest since 1986.

Crude inventories have increased by about 23 million barrels in the past four weeks, according to the EIA, the Energy Department's statistical arm.

The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has unlocked supplies from shale formations in the central U.S., including the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas.

Price War

WTI and Brent are down more than 20 percent from their June peak, meeting a common definition of a bear market, as leading OPEC members resisted calls to reduce supply.

Iraq's oil minister told parliament yesterday that there is a "price war" among OPEC members because the market's fundamentals have changed.

Output from the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased by 53,000 barrels a day to 30.974 million, a third monthly gain, the Bloomberg survey showed.

Production from OPEC, which is responsible for about 40 percent of the world's oil supply, was led higher by gains in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Libya, according to the Bloomberg survey of companies, producers and analysts.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Kuwait have cut their export prices this month, fueling speculation that they'll compete for market share. OPEC ministers are scheduled to meet on Nov. 27 in Vienna to discuss their output target of 30 million barrels a day.

Further Discounts

"The Saudis on a regular basis adjust their prices, but this one loomed larger," Daniel Yergin, the vice-chairman of IHS Inc., an Englewood, Colorado-based consultant, said in Singapore. "The message is that 'we're not going to lose market share to Iraq, Iran or other countries. We are going to be competitive.'"

State-run Saudi Arabian Oil Co. this month reduced official selling prices for November shipments to buyers in Asia to the lowest level since December 2008.

Oil also fell as the dollar strengthened, reducing oil's investment appeal. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed to 1,082.92, the highest level since 2010.

WTI may extend losses next week, another Bloomberg survey shows. Twelve of 30 analysts and traders, or 40 percent, forecast futures will decline through Nov. 7, while 11 predict a price advance.

Gasoline futures dropped 1.2 percent to $2.1695 a gallon on the Nymex. Regular gasoline will average below $3 at the pump in AAA's daily prices posted tomorrow, according to the Heathrow, Florida-based motoring company. Prices fell to $3.003 yesterday, the lowest level since December 2010.