OPEC and its allies look set to extend oil supply cuts next week at least until the end of 2019 as Iraq joined top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia on Sunday in endorsing a policy aimed at propping up the price of crude amid a weakening global economy.
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Tehran has in the past objected to policies put forward by arch-rival Saudi Arabia, saying Riyadh was too close to Washington.
Washington has demanded Riyadh pump more oil to compensate for lower exports from Iran after slapping fresh sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme.
OPEC and its allies led by Russia have been reducing oil output since 2017 to prevent prices from sliding amid soaring production from the United States, which has become the world’s top producer this year ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Fears about weaker global demand as a result of a U.S.-China trade spat have added to the challenges faced by the 14-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in recent months.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he had agreed with Saudi Arabia to extend existing output cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day, or 1.2% of global demand, by six to nine months – until December 2019 or March 2020.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the deal would most likely be extended by nine months and no deeper reductions were needed.
“It’s a rollover and it’s happening,” Falih, whose country is the de facto leader of OPEC, told reporters.
Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at Dutch bank ING, said OPEC had more to lose by not extending the deal.
“It comes down largely to fiscal breakeven oil prices – the Saudis have a breakeven price of around $85 per barrel, and so they will be concerned about potentially a widening gap between this level and where the market trades,” he said.
Benchmark Brent crude has climbed more than 25% since the start of 2019 to $65 per barrel. But prices could stall as a slowing global economy squeezes demand and U.S. oil floods the market, a Reuters poll of analysts found.
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