Oil prices plummet as OPEC decides against output cut

Oil Well - Photo by Ryan Lackey

Crude prices plunged Thursday after the powerful Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said it wouldn’t cut production levels to stem the collapse in oil prices that have fallen 40% since June.

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi delivered the news as he left a nearly five-hour meeting of the cartel’s 12 oil ministers here.

Benchmark crude oil prices plummeted in London following the meeting, with Brent crude sinking 6.2% to $69.11 a barrel. In June, prices were as high as $115 a barrel. Oil prices are at their lowest levels since September 2010, in part due to oversupply, lower demand and a boom in North American production.

Thursday’s collapse — which comes amid an apparent split within OPEC about whether to trim output — could lead to further price cuts at the pump, where U.S. consumers now pay an average $2.80 a gallon — down about 49 cents a gallon from year-ago levels.

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