Brent slides below $92 as bears linger


Brent crude oil dipped below $92 once again on Friday, as analysts warned that supply and dollar strength continued to weigh and price weakness looked set to continue.

Weak oil prices have puzzled investors as geopolitical tensions, which have persisted between the West and Russia and the Middle East, usually push oil prices higher on supply fears.

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An oil-drilling rig stands on the Bakken formation in Watford City, N.D.
Matthew Staver | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oversupply and a dollar rally have overshadowed geopolitical risks. A surge in crude oil output from North America, Saudi Arabia's decision to lower its official price for crude and its lack of commitment to cut production mean risks are now firmly on the downside.

Brent for November delivery bounced close to $94 per barrel early Friday, but fell later on in the day to $91.83, extending the three-day slide that has pushed prices to a 27-month low.

"It was expected that Saudi Arabia would cut their official selling prices a little bit, because everywhere else had fallen as well - but I don't think the magnitude was expected at all and that really shows they are trying to preserve their market share in Asia," chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, Amrita Sen told CNBC.

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"I think a lot of the smaller producers are already starting to be uncomfortable with the falling prices, including Iran and Iraq by the way. They are trying to hint to the Saudis: 'can you please cut production to raise prices?'," she said.

A strong dollar, which hit a four-year high against a basket of currencies earlier this week and is poised for the best quarter in six years has also put pressure on the oil price, making it more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

"The U.S. dollar is appreciating more rapidly than had been expected against most major currencies, creating a further headwind for commodity prices, but softening the price impact for producers," analysts at Citi led by global head of commodities research Edward Morse said.

"Undoubtedly looking forward there appears to be a higher probability of downside than upside price risk," he said.

Analysts are now looking to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting at the end of November, to see what Saudi Arabia is likely to do with its production targets, with some predicting it will ease output to boost prices.

Supply from OPEC averaged around 31 million barrels per day (bpd) in September and some expect the group to cut production by 500,000 barrels a day when it meets.

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"Even if they (OPEC) say we are going to reduce the quota from 30 million barrels to 29.5 million, it is close to 31 million today, so a headline quarter doesn't even matter," Sen said.

"It's not that the Saudis won't do anything – if we fall below $90 I think they will start stabilizing the market because the last thing they want is panic in the market – they are just making sure that their own market share is persevered," she added.