[LONDON] Oil fell towards US$61 a barrel on Monday, reversing gains after Saudi Arabia indicated it could increase its output.
Saudi Arabia is prepared to increase output and gain market share by meeting the demands of any new customers, Monday's edition of the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper quoted the kingdom's oil minister Ali al-Naimi as saying.
On Sunday Naimi said lower crude prices would help demand by stimulating the economy.
Brent fell 23 cents to US$61.15 by 1215 GMT. It is down more than 46 percent from the year's peak in June above US$115 per barrel. US crude was down 28 cents at US$56.85 a barrel. "We are going down because you have some OPEC ministers who come every day making statements trying to drive the market down, said Olivier Jakob, an oil analyst at Petromatrix Oil in Zug, Switzerland. "They come every day to convey the message that they are not doing anything to restrict supplies and that they basically want oil prices to move lower to reduce production in the US" OPEC's decision not to reduce production at a meeting in November sped up the decline in already falling oil prices. Prospects for a cut in the near future look remote.
While analysts said Brent would likely remain above US$60 a barrel this year, they said further large jumps in price were unlikely.
Analysts said that the price drop would have only a gradual impact on the outlook for production. "Given the lead time in permit approval and rig construction ahead of oil production, a sizeable negative US supply response given the price drop is unlikely to take place until late 2015, which places further downward pressure on oil prices in the first six months of next year," National Australia Bank said in a note.
It said it expected Brent and US crude to average US$68 and US$64 per barrel respectively in 2015.
Analysts also said they expected relatively low price volatility for the rest of the year as traders begin to wind down their 2014 positions.