OPEC yet to agree on production cut accord as Iran seeks exemption
VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran appeared on Friday to be the main obstacle for an OPEC deal to cut oil production as the group's leader Saudi Arabia had yet to agree exemptions for sanctions-hit Tehran, two OPEC sources said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries resumed discussions in Vienna at around 0900 GMT, before a meeting later in the day with non-OPEC oil producers led by Russia.
On Thursday, OPEC tentatively agreed an oil output cut but could not decide concrete parameters for reductions as it was waiting for a commitment from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia, sources from the group said.
On Friday, two OPEC sources said Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran, which came under fresh US sanctions in November, was also holding up a final deal.
"Iran will insist on an exception until sanctions are removed," one of the OPEC sources said.
Saudi Arabia has come under pressure from US President Donald Trump to help the global economy by refraining from cutting supplies.
And with Trump seeking to squeeze Tehran with sanctions, an OPEC output cut would provide additional support to Iran by increasing the price of oil.
Possibly further complicating any OPEC decision is the crisis around the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Trump has backed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite calls from many US politicians to impose stiff sanctions on Riyadh.