Indian basket of crude goes below $30 a barrel

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) Taking a $2-plus plunge overnight, the Indian crude basket dived sharply to close under the $30-a-barrel-mark on Thursday, official data showed on Friday.

On a day when UK Brent prices fell to levels last seen in 2004, the Indian basket — composed of 73 percent sour grade Dubai and Oman crudes and the rest by Brent — closed at $29.24 per barrel, as compared to $31.33 on the previous trading day.

The last time when the Indian crude basket fell below the $30-mark was 13 years ago when the price of a 159-litre barrel stood at $29.59 in January 2003.

Marking yet another 13-year low, the price of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) basket of twelve crudes stood at $27.85 a barrel on Thursday, compared to $29.71 the previous day, the organisation’s secretariat said.

On Tuesday, the OPEC basket had stood at $31.21 a barrel.

US crude output increased unexpectedly last week to 9.219 million barrels a day, according to the US Energy Information Agency. Adding to investors’ worries was the lack of signs that US shale oil producers would start cutting production in face of the plunging prices.

The West Texas Intermediate for February delivery moved down $2 to settle at $33.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest close since December 2008.

China further depreciated the yuan on Thursday, leading to regional currencies and stock markets tumbling as investors feared China’s moves could trigger competitive currency devaluations from trading partners.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index declined by 7.32 percent, which led to a halt in trading, as the circuit-breaker mechanism was triggered.

Commodity prices, too, plunged as the Chinese economy struggled.

The markets rout in India on Thursday plunged over 120 companies to 52-week lows

China’s service activity grew at a slower pace in December, fuelling worries about a slowdown in the world’s second biggest oil consuming economy.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met global oil and gas experts here earlier this week to discuss ways of boosting investments in the exploration and skill development at a time of low oil prices.

Among the foreign invitees to the meeting were British oil major BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley, International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Fatih Birol, and Royal Dutch Shell’s director (Projects) Harry Brekelmans.

The discussions focused, among other things, on subjects such as increasing the share of gas in India’s energy mix, fresh investment in oil and gas exploration in India, regulatory frameworks and international acquisition of oil and gas assets, said the Prime Minister’s Office.

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