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OPEC and allies prepare to deepen oil output cuts
Oil pumps in operation at an oilfield near central Los Angeles on February 02, 2011. World oil prices recently rallied close to $100 per barrel, as traders absorbed impressive fourth-quarter US economic growth and fretted over worsening political turmoil in Egypt. Most other commodity markets also won support this week from news that the US economic recovery picked up speed in the last three months of 2010, stoking hopes of strengthening demand for raw materials. The US economy grew at its fastest clip in five years in 2010, the Commerce Department reported, as the country bounced back from recession and fears of a double-dip recession ebbed. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

OPEC and allies prepare to deepen oil output cuts

VIENNA: OPEC and its allies led by Russia were moving closer on Thursday to agreeing to deeper oil supply cuts next year to support crude prices and prevent a glut, sources from OPEC and its allied producers said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets on Thursday in Vienna followed by a meeting with Russia and others, a grouping known as OPEC+, on Friday.

OPEC+ has curbed supply since 2017 to counter booming output from the United States, which has become the world’s biggest producer.

Next year, rising production in the United States and other non-OPEC countries such as Brazil and Norway threaten to add to the glut.

OPEC’s actions in the past have angered U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly demanded OPEC’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia bring oil prices down if it wants Washington’s to provide Riyadh with military support against arch-rival Iran.

In the past few months Trump has said little about OPEC but that might change later in 2020 if oil and gasoline prices rise – a politically sensitive issue as he seeks re-election in November.

Washington’s ongoing trade dispute with China has also clouded the economic and therefore oil demand outlook for 2020.

Two OPEC+ sources told Reuters on Thursday the group would discuss increasing current cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day by more than 400,000 bpd.

Iraq, OPEC’s second largest producer, said on Tuesday OPEC de facto leader Saudi Arabia was supporting cuts of 1.6 million bpd, or 1.6% of global demand.

The current cuts expire in March and OPEC sources and delegates have said the new deal could be extended to June or until the end of 2020.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has so far declined to comment on policy matters in Vienna.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was cited by his ministry as telling Prince Abdulaziz on Thursday that Russia-Saudi energy cooperation should continue.

Saudi Arabia needs higher oil prices to support its budget revenue and the pending initial public offering (IPO) of state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco with pricing of the IPO expected on Thursday.

OPEC’s actions have supported oil prices at around $50-$75 per barrel over the past year. Brent crude futures LCOc1 on Thursday were trading near $63 per barrel.

OPEC sources have also said Riyadh was pressing fellow members Iraq and Nigeria to improve their compliance with quotas, which could provide an additional reduction of up to 400,000 bpd.

Non-OPEC Russia has yet to agree to extend or deepen cuts from its current pledge of 228,000 bpd as its companies are arguing they are finding it tough to reduce output during winter months due to very low temperatures.

A source familiar with the Russian thinking told Reuters that Moscow would likely reach a deal with OPEC this week and just needed to iron out a few outstanding issues.

One sticking point for Russia is how its output is measured. Russia includes gas condensate in production figures, while other producers do not.