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Oil posts biggest one-day gains after Trump touts Saudi-Russia oil deal

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Crude prices posted their biggest-one day gains on record on Thursday after President Donald Trump said he expects Russia and Saudi Arabia to announce a major oil production cut, and Saudi state media said the kingdom was calling an emergency meeting of producers to deal with the market turmoil.

[NEW YORK] Crude prices posted their biggest-one day gains on record on Thursday after President Donald Trump said he expects Russia and Saudi Arabia to announce a major oil production cut, and Saudi state media said the kingdom was calling an emergency meeting of producers to deal with the market turmoil.

Mr Trump said he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut oil output by as much as 10 million to 15 million barrels, as the two countries signalled willingness to make a deal.

Mr Trump did not specify barrels per day (bpd), though the market expresses demand and supply in those terms. Such a sizeable deal, however, would likely require participation from other big producers outside of the OPEC cartel.

Saudi Arabia said it would call an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Saudi state media reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that the kingdom would consider dropping output to roughly 9 million bpd, or about 3 million bpd less than what it planned on pumping in April.

Brent futures rose US$5.20 or 21.0 per cent to settle at US$29.94 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose US$5.01 or 24.7 per cent to settle at US$25.32.

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Despite the huge gains, oil prices have still lost more than half their value this year. The market slumped in early March, when Saudi Arabia and Russia were unable to come to terms on a deal to curb production, and the Saudis boosted output to more than 12 million bpd and shipped discounted cargoes worldwide.

Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has severely cut fuel demand. US crude prices fell under US$20 per barrel a few times in recent days.

"The question will come down to, will they be able to agree to something? It's taken a couple of weeks of Brent at US$25 and WTI at US$20 and it seems as if the Russians are more approachable than they were a month ago," said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Brent soared as much as 47 per cent during the session, its highest intraday percentage gain ever. WTI jumped as much as 35 per cent, its second highest ever, after an intraday gain of 36 per cent on March 19.

Oil prices pulled back from those highs as traders questioned whether Russia and Saudi Arabia could actually agree on such a big production cut.

A senior administration official told Reuters the United States does not know formal details of Saudi Arabian and Russian plans to reduce oil supply yet and will not ask US domestic oil producers to chip in with their own cuts.

"Despite today's headlines, we remain skeptical that a deal to cut output will materialise," analysts at Capital Economics said, noting Saudi Arabia is unlikely to cut output unless Russia and possibly other non-OPEC producers, like the United States and Canada, join in a coordinated reduction.

With fuel demand expected to fall by 20 to 30 per cent in the coming months, pressure was building on oil producers to reach a deal, and Mr Trump expressed growing frustration about the crude price and its effect on the energy industry.

Texas regulators are exploring the possibility of cutting production in that state, which produces more than 5 million bpd.

REUTERS

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