Singapore: Oil prices stayed above $101per barrel in Asian trading Monday ahead of an OPEC meeting in which the cartel is expected to maintain current output levels, dealers said.
In late morning trading, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for April delivery, held steady at $101.84, equalling Friday’s close in New York.
London’s Brent North Sea crude for April delivery gained seven cents to 101.17.
Prices are trading in a narrow range because “there has been no major news to affect prices,” said Jason Feer, vice-president of energy market analysts Argus Media Ltd in Singapore.
Aside from Wednesday’s OPEC meeting, “the market is waiting for something to happen right now that is worth paying attention to,” said Feer.
The 13 members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), who together pump 40% of the world’s oil, are due to meet Wednesday in Vienna to decide on current daily output level, which is currently set at 29.67 million barrels per day.
“Either we hold (output) steady or we cut in order to restore market balance and stability,” OPEC President Chakib Khelil, who is also Algeria’s energy minister, said in a statement.
OPEC members Iran and Venezuela are calling on the cartel to cut production, arguing that prices are likely to slide when demand for crude drops during the second quarter.
While expected to maintain production output, Feer said that OPEC members will be taking a “hard look” at prices and softening demand from the US and China.
The March-June period coincides with warmer temperatures in the energy-hungry northern hemisphere, thus reducing demand for heating fuel.
Oil prices struck a record-high $100 at the start of January, and on Friday the price of New York crude hit a fresh peak of $103.05 per barrel.