Saudi, Russia leave world guessing after OPEC meeting

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh talks to journalists at the beginning of an OPEC meeting in Vienna Austria

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh talks to journalists at the beginning of an OPEC meeting in Vienna Austria

OPEC began capping supply in partnership with Russian Federation and several other nations previous year in order to end a punishing downturn in oil prices.

"Given the recent ramp-up in supply from these producers, this represents a year-on-year decline in crude output of just 0.2 million barrels per day for 2019", Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president for macro oils at Wood Mackenzie, said in a briefing.

The lower prices may lead to a slowdown in drilling activity and lower investments in the shale patch, USA oil industry executives and analysts say.

In preparatory meetings ahead of this week's summit, delegates had said a cut of as much as 1.3 million barrels a day next year is needed as demand growth slows and USA shale production surges.

Qatar, a Saudi rival and Iranian ally, said this week it would leave OPEC in January.

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The 15-member organization and non-OPEC partners, including Russian Federation, will reportedly negotiate steep output reductions which could start in January. It has wanted an exemption. The market has been lower all day due to concern that planned production cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will be smaller than originally anticipated. I think that if we break down below this level, and let's face it today is the Nonfarm Payroll Numbers announcement which could make that happen, we will continue to go much lower.

S&P Global Platts reports that Nigeria and Libya would be asked to accept a production cut quota if OPEC can reach a new supply accord at the meeting holding in Vienna on Thursday.

"If they would, then (Russia and others) could adjust their negotiation strategy", said Jan Edelmann, analyst at HSH Nordbank.

Since October, the price of both benchmark United States crude and the standard for internationally traded oil has fallen some 22 percent.

The fall in the price of oil will be a help to many consumers as well as energy-hungry businesses, particularly at a time when global growth is slowing.

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Additionally, U.S. President Donald Trump has been putting pressure publicly on OPEC not to cut production.

"Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted", he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Brent oil prices, which lost 30 per cent of their value last month after climbing as high as $86 per barrel in October, needed a harsher cut of more than one million bpd to recoup some of the losses, according to analysts. Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia is in a delicate position, in the wake of the murder of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump has backed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite calls from many U.S. politicians to impose stiff sanctions on Riyadh. Some experts say that gives the USA some leverage over the Saudis, though Al-Falih denied that on Thursday.

"We don't need permission from anyone to cut", he said.

Iran has said it is carefully monitoring the next steps by some OPEC members and their allies which have "arbitrarily" ramped up oil production, leading to a crash in prices. How strongly it does so could depend on Russia's contribution, which will be determined in a meeting on Friday.

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