The price of oil has reached new all time records, within hours of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries announcing it would immediately increase output.
Brent went over $54.70 a barrel, topping its previous record of $54.30, while in New York the price touched $57.
The increase came after the a US government report showed domestic supplies of petrol and heating oil fell sharply last week. Earlier OPEC had announced its fourth output rise in less than a year. The agreement came during a regular OPEC meeting at Isfahan in Iran.
Pushing strongest for the production hike was Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi.
He overcame opposition from other OPEC members who were concerned that increasing output now would lead to a glut and a big fall in prices later. They will now pump an extra 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day and if demand stays high OPEC’s president has been authorised to increase quotas by another 500,000 barrels without a further full meeting having to be held. A major problem for OPEC is that more than half of its 11 members are operating at or close to full capacity.
The Kuwaiti oil minister says OPEC has two million barrels of spare capacity ready to be tapped, but analysts are sceptical.
And market speculators are betting that demand, particularly in the US and China, will continue to outstrip supply.