OPEC, non-OPEC countries to discuss oil cuts: Russia
Russia yesterday said it will take part in a meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC members as oil prices wobbled on doubts over the impact of an output cut deal. Energy Minister Alexander Novak will attend the meeting in Vienna on Saturday expected to nail down details on implementing the agreement reached last week.
After months of disagreement, OPEC members on November 30 hammered out a deal to cut oil output for the first time in eight years. Moscow-which is not a member of the oil cartel-has said it is ready to reduce crude output by 300,000 barrels a day in the first half of 2017.
The OPEC agreement ended weeks of uncertainty and volatility on crude markets as the key players bickered over who would shoulder the biggest burden of the cuts. Oil prices shot up on the announcement, which was more ambitious than many analysts had expected.
Prices reached a 16-month high late Monday on the back of an announcement by OPEC of the meeting with non-members but quickly dipped overnight as the lustre of OPEC’s decision to cut production faded. Yesterday at 1345 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was down $1.06 on the day at $50.73, while Brent North Sea crude had dropped 93 cents to $54.01.
With crude prices above $50 dollars, US shale oil producers are dusting off dormant oil rigs as they gear up to raise production which could lessen the impact of any OPEC cuts. “The price action speaks to me of a market that lacks conviction and momentum,” said OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley. “As reality bites in a world awash with oil, producing countries will have to show some meaningful backbone on compliance, for probably the first time ever, to achieve the meaningful rally in oil prices that they so desire.” Some analysts say that last week’s deal will likely be finalised at Saturday’s meeting but doubts over its implementation remain.
“Reports that the group once again increased output in November will raise fresh skepticism,” analysts from Accendo Markets said. Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said that with Saudi Arabia trying to defend its market share, “it is hard to imagine how OPEC will convince nonOPEC producers to cut production”.
Novak has called on Russia’s oil companies to slash output to comply with the decision. Deputy Energy Minister Kirill Molodtsov told Russian news agencies that the country’s oil companies would convene Wednesday for a meeting. By cutting 300,000 barrels a day, Russian will produce some 10.9 million barrels a day-a figure higher than when Russia had attempted to agree on a production freeze with OPEC members in the spring.
Emily Stromquist of Eurasia Group said Russia’s commitment to slashing its production “should be viewed with skepticism.” After the first quarter of 2017, “Russia is likely to assume a flexible interpretation of its engagement and deliver only a portion of this 300,000 bpd cut in the best case scenario,” Stromquist said. The slide in oil prices and Western sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis have pummeled the Russian economy. — AFP