The average price for a basket of crudes from OPEC producers fell to $25 a barrel on Thursday, the group said, even before unrestrained exports from Iran hit the market. Oil moved lower on Friday, trading below the symbolically important $30-a-barrel price as market turmoil continued in China and the easing of sanctions on Iran appeared imminent.
Benchmark global oil prices took a fresh hit on Friday with the market bracing for more supplies from Iran earlier than expected.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said the price of a basket of crudes produced by its 13 members was assessed at $25.69 on Wednesday.
Iran expects the United Nations nuclear watchdog to confirm on Friday it has curtailed its nuclear program, paving the way for the unfreezing of billions of dollars of assets and an end to bans that have crippled its oil exports.
For the past 18 months, oversupply has been the main factor responsible for dragging down prices by two-thirds, after Saudi Arabia led OPEC in a shift of its policy by deciding against cutting production to support prices.
Low prices have also spurred global demand to multi-year highs, but just as Saudi Arabia's strategy was showing signs of success, the United States has lifted a decades-old ban on its oil exports and Iran is bracing to boost output after lifting of the sanctions, adding to bearish sentiment in oil market.
Gulf oil sources have been skeptical about a quick return of Iranian barrels and Tehran's ability to raise production as swiftly as it says it can. They have expected sanctions to be lifted by the end of March with around 200,000-300,000 barrels per day of extra production flowing from Iran later this year.
Some now see oil prices falling further to around $25 a barrel. Brent was trading at $29.53 on Friday at 10.23GMT.