Meanwhile, Iran teases the idea of deeper cuts to rebalance the market.
Iran has teased the idea of deeper cuts to rebalance the market.
Although West Texas Intermediate on Friday rose 27 cents to settle at $43.01 and Brent climbed 29 cents to $45.51, crude remained down for a fifth consecutive week - and skirted a 10 month low, causing critics to once again cite the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for failing to reduce the global glut via its production cutback agreement.
With oil prices down 20 percent this year, the market is headed for its biggest first half percentage fall since the late 1990s, and analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note on Friday that "We doubt that demand growth will accelerate sufficiently to break the current downward price momentum."
Still, some experts believe the market is overreacting: Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group Inc., told Bloomberg, "It's becoming bearish mania: I think they're overdoing it.
Phil Flynn, senior market analyst, Price Futures Group Inc
It's becoming bearish mania: I think they're overdoing it
"If we keep going down, we're not going to be adding rigs in a few months, we're not going to be adding production."
As for OPEC's role in improving market stability, Thomas Finlon, director of Energy Analytics Group LLC, remarked, "It's very difficult to see at what point in time the original objective of this OPEC/non-OPEC agreement can be reached; it's a finish line that is getting farther and farther away."
Perhaps sensitive to the sustained criticism that the cartel may have extended its cuts until next year but failed to deepen them, there is now talk among OPEC members that more cuts may be in the offing.
While he stressed that the existing cuts need more time to work, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, oil minister for Iran, told media, "We are consulting with OPEC member states to have them prepared to make a decision: decision-making would mean for OPEC to make further cuts."
He conceded that reaching a consensus would be "difficult": "Making decisions in this organization is very difficult because any decision will mean production cuts for the members."
But one source close to OPEC told Reuters that a deepening of cuts won't occur "unless Iran would accept being included in the cut"; and three other OPEC delegates dismissed the prospect outright.
Also last week, John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital, theorized that only an outright war in the Middle East over Syria would escalate crude prices; otherwise, he thinks "the most likely way forward for prices is lower still, into at least the mid-$30s."