Crude oil prices moved sharply lower in early Monday trading after an OPEC meeting during the weekend failed to result in any concrete direction for output.
Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries wrapped up technical negotiations on the so-called Algiers Accord during the weekend. Parties to an arrangement offered a proposal last month to put a ceiling in production from the 14 members, with the help of non-members, in an effort to pull markets back into balance.
A surplus of oil the market has left crude oil prices struggling to move much further beyond the $50 mark and OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo said Saturday supply-side pressures were still apparent.
"The markets are still under pressure of oversupply as reflected in excess stocks," he said. "The recovery process has taken far too long and we cannot risk delaying the adjustment any further."
The price for Brent crude oil was down 1.65 percent to start trading on the last day in October at $49.90 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price, was down 1.56 percent to open the trading day in New York at $47.94 per barrel.
Brent is down about 3.7 percent from its high point for October as doubts persist over whether or not the Algiers Accord will develop into concrete action. Weekend meetings concluded with agreements for further talks, but nothing formal in terms of who does what on production levels.
According to secondary sources, total production from all member states averaged 33.39 million barrels per day. That's an increase of 220,000 bpd from the previous month. Production outside of OPEC is expected to increase slightly next year, with new projects in Russia contributing to most of the growth.
A research note published Monday from brokerage firm PVM said there may be too many players involved in the Algiers Accord to make it work.
"Herding cats is easier," it said.
By Daniel J Graeber