Is OPEC losing control on world’s crude oil prices?

By:  Bob van der Valk

Since October 16, 2013 West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil decreased in price from $102.49 to $94.11 a barrel, for an 8.2 percent loss, with more to come on the horizon.  Good news for consumers with oil companies having enough on hand in cash reserves to make it through yet another pricing adjustment as happened in July 2008.

The question on the Oil Producing Export Countries (OPEC) controlling the world’s energy market has been resolved.  It has been exactly 40 years since Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC imposed an embargo on exports of crude oil.  Since 1973 US consumers have seen gasoline prices go from $.369 to almost $5 per gallon.

oils-bearish-patternCrude oil has rallied back up over to $100 a barrel since the early days of 2009 when West Texas Intermediate crude oil bottomed out at $32 a barrel.  Since then the price has been influenced by wars and rumors of wars as well as being threatened by domestic terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year.


More downside should be expected for crude oil and the dive is just beginning now. Major technical support lies at $60-$62, and oil may not bottom until it falls to as low as $40

The weekly Department of Energy inventory report shows a rise for seven straight weeks.  Last week, they rose 5.2 million barrels. Over the past four weeks, inventories have risen by 22 million barrels, the second largest increase since February 2009.

DOE Statistics for the Week Ending November 1, 2013:

DOE Stocks 11/1/2013 10/25/2013 11/2/2012 Stocks v. Last Week Stocks v. Year Ago
Crude Oil (Excluding SPR) 385.4  383.9   374.8  1.5 10.6
Gasoline 210.0 213.8  202.4 -3.8  7.6
Distillates 117.8 122.7 118.1  -4.9 -0.3
Propane/Propylene 62.1  64.8 73.6 -2.7  -11.5
Total Petroleum Products 731.5 741.4 724.2 -9.9 7.3
Total Petroleum Stocks 1,116.9  1,125.3 1,099.0  -8.4 17.9
Natural Gas (Bcf)* 3,814 3,779 3,926 35 -112

Table covers crude oil and principal products.  Other products, including residual fuel oil and “other oils” are not shown, and changes in the stocks of these products are reflected in “Total Petroleum Products”. Statistics Source: Energy Information Administration “Weekly Petroleum Status Report” available at

With domestic oil production on the rise, the good news is North America will become energy secure by the end of 2014. OPEC has slowly been losing control on pricing the world’s crude oil requirements.

Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana and is the Senior Editor of the Bakken Oil Business Journal as well as Fuel-pricing Analyst for US petroleum distributors and retail station owners. He can be contacted at:


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