The Punch

Saudi Arabia, UAE in talks on OPEC+ crisis

- ’Femi Asu with agency report

SAUDI Arabia, the de facto leader of the Organisati­on of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, was deep in talks with the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday to resolve a dispute over UAE’S output target.

Last week, OPEC and its allies, a group called OPEC+, cancelled a meeting due to clashes over plan to increase supply to meet rising global demand.

The discussion­s between Saudi Arabia and UAE centered around a preliminar­y understand­ing to grant the UAE a new production baseline of 3.65 million barrels per day from May 2022, according to a source involved in the meeting, S&P Global Platts reported on Wednesday.

That would be an increase of about 480,000 bpd from its current baseline of 3.168 million bpd, which will remain in place through April, the source said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivit­y of the discussion­s.

It is less than the close to 700,000 bpd rise that the UAE had been seeking, but would also be a concession from Saudi Arabia, which had wanted to hold the line on output targets through the end of 2022.

Baselines, which were set using October 2018 production volumes, are used by the OPEC+ alliance to set output quotas, so a higher baseline for the UAE would result in a more generous allocation.

Emirati officials have sought the revision to reflect the country’s increased production capacity.

Delegates from other OPEC+ members said they had yet to be briefed about the deal, which would need to be unanimousl­y approved by the 23 countries in the coalition.

The rift between Saudi Arabia and the UAE has threatened to scupper a largely agreed accord for the OPEC+ group to lift output by 400,000 bpd monthly and extend their supply management pact beyond its April expiry through the end of 2022. The UAE has been the lone holdout.

A new deal may be too late to take effect for August, with many members’ national oil companies already informing their contractua­l customers of the volumes of crude they would be receiving for the month.

“We will see how to manage it,” one source said of the August quotas.

The OPEC+ alliance is currently withholdin­g about 5.8 million bpd of crude production, which it intends to unwind as demand recovers from the pandemic.

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