The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France September 17, 2019. (Reuters)
MOSCOW/DUBAI/LONDON – 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 7.7 million 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 LCOc1 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 U.S. shale production.
It was not immediately clear whether Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait would extend beyond June their additional, voluntary cuts of 1.18 million bpd, which are not part of the deal. (Reuters)