Oil Prices Fall as Analysts Doubt Prospects of Doha Meeting

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By Brendel Balaga

Oil prices fell on Monday over speculation that the upcoming meeting in Qatar aimed at freezing current output levels would hardly make a difference in the persistent oil glut.

Brent crude futures, the global benchmark for oil, gave up 27 cents to trade lower at $41.67 a barrel as of 0810 GMT. It fell from a three-week high hit on Friday.

Oil rallied more than 6 percent last week after U.S. energy companies reduced the number of oil rigs for a third straight week to its lowest count in over six years.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude also fell on Monday, declining 21 cents from the previous session to trade at $39.51 a barrel.

Goldman Sachs analysts cautioned that even if production would be frozen at recent levels, that would still not be sufficient in rebalancing the oil market as OPEC and Russian output are already near their 2016 average forecast of 40.5 million barrels per day.

Barclays analysts, meanwhile, feel that the Doha meeting could have limited effect as Iran continues to raise output. Tehran previously announced that it will not participate in any output freeze agreement until it is able to raise exports back to pre-sanction levels.

While analysts are skeptical of the prospects of next Sunday’s meeting, researchers are less bearish about global demand.

Researchers at Bernstein are projecting global oil demand to rise at a mean annual rate of 1.4 percent beginning this year until 2020. The annual growth rate over the last 10 years was only at 1.1 percent.

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