Oil dropped on speculation that a pledge by Saudi Arabia and Russia to freeze production at January levels won’t succeed in tackling the global oil surplus.
Crude fell 1.4 percent in New York. The agreement depends on other producers following suit, Qatar’s Energy Minister Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada said in Doha Tuesday. The pact won’t be meaningful unless Iran and Iraq, which have been raising output, cooperate, Commerzbank AG said. Saudi Arabia’s Ali al-Naimi said the freeze could be followed by other steps to improve the market.
Venezuela has lobbied exporters including Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia to arrange a meeting between OPEC members and other suppliers in an attempt to reach an agreement to balance the market. Brent crude is still down about 14 percent this year amid the outlook for increased Iranian exports. BP Plc predicts the market will remain “tough and choppy” in the first half as it contends with a surplus of 1 million barrels a day.
West Texas Intermediate oil for March delivery fell 40 cents to close at $29.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. There was no settlement Monday because of the U.S. Presidents Day holiday. Trades were booked Tuesday for settlement purposes. Total volume traded was 80 percent above the 100-day average at 2:48 p.m.
Brent for April settlement slipped $1.21, or 3.6 percent, to $32.18 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark oil closed at a $1.21 premium to April WTI.