Oil Price Steady After Slump

Oil Price Steady After SlumpOil Price Steady After Slump

The price of benchmark Brent crude oil steadied on Friday after slumping to the lowest level in more than two years against a backdrop of solid supplies and sluggish demand.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October eased 19 cents to stand at $97.89 a barrel in London afternoon deals, Saturday.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for October edged up six cents to $92.89 a barrel.

Brent had tumbled to $96.72 on Thursday — a level last reached in 2012 — while WTI hit a 16-month trough at $90.43 a barrel.

Prices plumbed the latest depths after the Paris-based IEA, which advises on energy policy to industrialized nations, cut its global oil demand outlook, citing weaker economic growth in both Europe and China.

The news followed broadly similar demand forecast downgrades this week from both the US government's Energy Information Administration and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries

OPEC's chief said on Friday that no emergency meeting is being considered as he expects oil prices to rebound by the end of the year.

But in an interview with The Wall Street Journal at the group's headquarters in Vienna, OPEC secretary-general Abdalla Salem el-Badri said that "the price will come back."

An emergency meeting of the OPEC "isn't on our radar," Mr. el-Badri said.

The remarks by the group's most authoritative voice echoes similar views by top OPEC producers Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on Thursday, which also said that they were unfazed by the drop in oil prices.

Iran's oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh also said on Thursday “Currently, we do not believe that emergency meeting is necessary.”

Mr. el-Badri blamed the current price decline on seasonal factors.

"I am not really worried," he said. "July and August aren't really good months to judge the market because of refinery maintenance and other issues."

OPEC's secretariat will reassess the market situation early October when demand normally strengthens seasonally. "We will look at the situation carefully beginning of October to see how the market behave," OPEC's secretary-general said.

But Mr. el-Badri also suggested that oil prices would rebound mechanically if they were to fall further. "If the price was to come down, expensive production would be out of the market," he said.

The break-even price for US shale oil projects can typically rise to $80 a barrel, according the International Energy Agency.

Overall, "the average price is still healthy" for this year, Mr. el-Badri said.