Oil drops as OPEC makes supply cut dependent on Russian support

Oil prices fell on Friday as OPEC discussed a potential exemption from cutting output for Iran and as the producer club sought to get heavyweight supplier Russia on board.

International Brent crude oil futures fell below $60 per barrel, trading at $59.53 per barrel at 0750 GMT, down 53 cents, or 0.9 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.05 per barrel, down 44 cents, or 0.9 percent.

The declines came after crude slumped by almost 3 percent the previous day, with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ending a meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday without announcing a decision to cut crude supply.

There was also still discussion around Iran seeking an exemption from any cuts amid U.S. sanctions which already reduced its exports, OPEC delegates told Reuters.

OPEC also wants to get Russia on board with cuts. Russia wants to cut its oil output by a maximum of 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) for the first three months of 2019, RIA news agency cited a source as saying on Friday.

Analysts expect OPEC to cut more than Russia, but warn that a big cut will be needed to reverse recent price falls.

“Reversing the overwhelmingly bearish price sentiment will likely require a credible and cohesive message from the OPEC meeting. Even a 1 million bpd cut could lead to a ‘sell the news’ reaction in the short term,” U.S. investment bank Jefferies said on Friday.

“If no agreement is reached, oil prices have significant downside,” it added.

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