Opec, Russia extend record oil cuts to end of July

Published June 7, 2020
A view of Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura Port on the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman on Saturday said that demand was returning as big oil-consuming economies emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown.—File photo
A view of Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura Port on the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman on Saturday said that demand was returning as big oil-consuming economies emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown.—File photo

MOSCOW: Opec, Russia and allies agreed on Saturday to extend record oil production cuts until the end of July, prolonging a deal that has helped crude prices double in the past two months by withdrawing almost 10 per cent of global supplies from the market.

The group, known as Opec+, also demanded countries such as Nigeria and Iraq, which exceeded production quotas in May and June, compensate with extra cuts in July to September.

Opec+ had initially agreed in April that it would cut supply by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) during May-June to prop up prices that collapsed due to the coronavirus crisis. Those cuts were due to taper to 7.7m bpd from July to December.

“Demand is returning as big oil-consuming economies emerge from pandemic lockdown. But we are not out of the woods yet and challenges ahead remain,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the video conference of Opec+ ministers.

Benchmark Brent crude climbed to a three-month high on Friday above $42 a barrel, after diving below $20 in April. Prices still remain a third lower than at the end of 2019.

“Prices can be expected to be strong from Monday, keeping their $40 plus levels,” said Bjornar Tonhaugen from Rystad Energy.

Saudi Arabia, Opec’s de facto leader, and Russia have to perform a balancing act of pushing up oil prices to meet their budget needs while not driving them much above $50 a barrel to avoid encouraging a resurgence of rival US shale production.

Bulging inventories

The April deal was agreed under pressure from US President Donald Trump, who wants to avoid US oil industry bankruptcies.

Trump, who previously threatened to pull US troops out of Saudi Arabia if Riyadh did not act, spoke to the Russian and Saudi leaders before Saturday’s talks, saying he was happy with the price recovery.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2020

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