OPEC yet to agree on pro­duc­tion cut ac­cord as Iran seeks ex­emp­tion

Manila Bulletin - - Business News -

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.

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