Gasoline prices are likely to decline by the end of 2017 as the market is watching for the outcome of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting on November 30 on whether production cuts will be extended and what effect that will have on crude oil prices.
The OPEC meeting on Thursday in Vienna could increase volatility again as crude oil prices reached $58 a barrel before the Thanksgiving holiday, marking the first occurrence since 2015. WTI crude oil has risen by 8% in 2017, but dipped by 40% during in the past decade.
Supply cuts from members of OPEC have contributed to the steady rise of crude oil prices, but Russia's decision will impact prices.
"Saudi Arabia wants to extend the production cuts due to expire next March while Russia, along with the U.S., has been boosting output to offset the Saudi cuts," said Bernard Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business in Dallas.
"The consensus is that Russia will continue pumping full out, meaning that oil, gasoline and diesel prices here at home will likely be lower at the end of the year," he said.
A surplus in the oil supply could hamper prices and for 2018, WTI should price in the $52 plus or minus $5 range "in view of growing U.S. production and more than ample global supplies" he said.
The production in oil remains strong and all "eyes are on OPEC," said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, a Boston-based provider of retail fuel pricing information and data.
"I'm sure they'll agree to extend production cuts," he said.
The moves made by the producers in OPEC will set the tone for crude oil prices for the fourth quarter, said Michael McAllister, an energy analyst for Japanese-based MUFG.
"What they decide will dictate the next move," he said. "Demand fundamentals will remain strong in the last quarter, but the U.S. is not the swing producer anymore and will not be for awhile," he said.
Crude oil prices are likely to remain range bound for the coming weeks and will fall to as low as $50 a barrel and hit a high of $60 a barrel, said McAllister.
The market has to be prepared for the seasonal and global declines in the first two quarters of next year and budget for oil prices to hit a low of $50 a barrel, he said.
Demand in winter months is typically lower and gas prices should "inch lower thanks to oil prices taking a bit of a break after setting multi-year highs," DeHaan said.
The demand in the U.S. has demonstrated "incredible resiliency as we've progressed through the year," but is likely to succumb to seasonal weakness soon. Crude oil prices are expected to fall to the $50 to $53 per barrel, which "opens up the door for the spring rally'' for oil to bounce back to $60 a barrel or higher, he said.
"Exports remain sky high, keeping pressure on gas prices and inventories of gasoline are still reeling after Harvey," DeHaan said. "This year has been unique at the pumps. Gas prices spent much of the time in the weeks approaching Thanksgiving by rising when typically, they would be on a sizable downward trend."
American drivers are on average paying nearly 40 cents a gallon more than 2016.
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