Oil Slips on Output Uncertainty

Oil Slips on Output UncertaintyOil Slips on Output Uncertainty

Crude oil prices eased in thin trade on Monday as a meeting between OPEC producers Saudi Arabia and Venezuela showed little indication that steps would be taken to boost prices.

Global benchmark Brent futures were down $1 to $33.06 a barrel. They fell from $34.06 a barrel on Friday. US crude futures fell by $1.07 to $29.82, after slipping 83 cents to $30.89 on Friday, Reuters reported.

Both contracts firmed slightly earlier in the session on Monday in seesaw trade on low volumes as many Asian markets were on holiday for the Lunar New Year.

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi discussed cooperation between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producers to stabilize the global oil market with his Venezuelan counterpart on Sunday. However, there was no sign any agreement had been reached to hold an early meeting of suppliers.

"It was a successful meeting and (conducted) in a positive atmosphere," Saudi news agency SPA cited Naimi as saying.

Venezuela's Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino, who is on a tour of oil producers to lobby for action to prop up prices, said his meeting with Naimi was "productive".

"The picture is neither clear nor harmonious," PVM Oil Associates analyst David Hufton said in a note on Monday.

"The market is likely to remain highly volatile and dangerous. Unless there is some pretty bullish news in the next few days, the contracts are likely to erode value and head south," Hufton warned.

In a sign Tehran is determined to claw back lost market share after the lifting of sanctions, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted by the ministry's news agency Shana on Saturday as saying that France's Total had agreed to buy 160,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude for delivery in Europe.

Zanganeh added that Italy's Eni was interested in buying 100,000 bpd and Italian refiner Saras was interested in buying 60,000-70,000 bpd.

The market is eying US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony to lawmakers on Wednesday along with US crude inventory data from the Energy Information Administration on the same day.