Major oil-producing countries agree to continue output levels

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Photo used for illustrative purpose.

Major oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed on Sunday to maintain their current output levels in a climate of uncertainty and ahead of fresh sanctions against Moscow coming into force next week.

The decision comes two days after the Group of Seven (G7) nations agreed a price cap on Russian oil.

The representatives of the thirteen members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) led by Riyadh, and their 10 allies headed by Moscow, decided to stick to their course agreed in October of a production cut of two million barrels per day until the end of 2023.

Sunday’s widely anticipated move was no “big surprise” given that the economy has been “slowing somewhat, pushing oil prices below $90, despite the lower production levels,” analyst Hans van Cleef with ABN AMRO said.

Collectively known as Opec+, the alliance said on Sunday that its October decision to cut output was “purely driven by market considerations,” adding that it had been the “necessary and right course of action towards stabilising global oil markets.” The Opec+ output reduction in October represented the biggest cut since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a move denounced by the United States as a concession to Moscow. The next Opec+ ministerial meeting is scheduled for June 4, 2023. But the alliance said it was ready to “meet at any time and take immediate additional measures” to address market developments and support the oil market if necessary.

SPOTLIGHT ON RUSSIA

On Friday, the EU, G7 and Australia agreed a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil, which will come into effect on Monday or soon after, alongside an EU embargo on maritime deliveries of Russian crude oil.

It will prevent seaborne shipments of Russian crude to the European Union, which account for two thirds of the bloc’s oil imports from Russia, an attempt to deprive Moscow’s war chest of billions of euros.

“We will sell oil and oil products to countries that will work with us on market terms, even if we have to reduce production somewhat,” Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said after Sunday’s quick meeting via videoconference.

Even though “inflation, the tightening of monetary policies and China’s COVID-19 epidemic” were posing risks to the market, it was still “in a better state than two months ago,” Novak said, according to Russian news agencies.

“We are currently working on mechanisms to prohibit the use of the price cap tool at any level,” Novak added, stating that “such interference” could only cause “further market destabilisation and scarcity of energy resources.”

Agencies

 

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