China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., supplier of more than half the fuel in the world's second-biggest oil consumer, is slashing processing rates by 10 percent from July's record, company officials said today. Europe's economy fell into its first recession in 15 years in the third quarter, while a U.S. Energy Department report yesterday showed fuel demand in the last four weeks down 6.6 percent from a year ago.
Crude oil for December delivery traded at $58.19 a barrel, 5 cents lower, on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1:33 p.m. London time. The contract earlier rose as much as $59.96 before declining as low as $57.11.
Prices have tumbled 61 percent from a record $147.27 on July 11. Oil is set to fall 5.5 percent this week.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, supplier of 40 percent of the world's crude, is ``very likely'' to recommend a production cut at the end of this month, Iran's OPEC governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi told the Mehr news agency.
OPEC will hold a consultative meeting on Nov. 29 in Cairo, according to a spokesman at the group's Vienna headquarters. It will coincide with a gathering of Arab oil ministers already scheduled for that day.
The organization decided at a meeting in Vienna last month to cut the production target for 11 of the group's members by 1.5 million barrels a day, from 28.8 million barrels a day.
U.S. crude-oil stockpiles rose 22,000 barrels to 311.9 million barrels last week, the Energy Department said yesterday. Inventories were forecast to climb 1 million barrels, according to the median of 13 responses in a Bloomberg News survey.
Brent crude oil for January settlement fell as much as $1.41 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $54.83 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. It was at $55.93 a barrel at 1:07 p.m. London time.