March 3, 2020 / 12:32 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Kuwait oil minister says optimistic on outcome of OPEC meetings

(Adds quotes, background)

DUBAI, March 3 (Reuters) - Kuwait’s oil minister said on Tuesday he is optimistic about the outcome of OPEC meetings this week despite the “noticeable” impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the global oil markets during the past month, Kuwait state news agency KUNA reported.

“Marathon” meetings will be held during by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies to reach an agreement on the best ways to restore stability and balance to the global oil market, Kuwaiti minister Khaled al-Fadhel told KUNA before heading to Vienna to attend the meetings.

“We are optimistic on the expected outcome of the meetings and the continued cooperation among the OPEC+ alliance,” he said.

“Global oil markets have been noticeably impacted during the past month following the new coronavirus outbreak which noticeably reduced oil demand and negatively affected the prices,” he added.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said global oil demand growth has fallen by 435,000 bpd in the first quarter to its lowest level in a decade, and said that this forecast may be revised even further.

OPEC countries have been debating whether to further reduce oil production by one million barrels per day (bpd), among other options, as it seeks to stabilise falling prices. That is more than an initially proposed cut of 600,000 bpd.

The group and its allies led by Russia known as OPEC+ agreed in December a collective cut of 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) to their supply until the end of this month.

The Kuwaiti minister stressed the importance of eliminating the expected surplus in global oil inventories especially during the second quarter of this year, following the big decline in global markets due to the impact of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The global death toll has now risen above 3,000, with more than 86,500 infections, and the virus is now spreading outside China at a much faster rate than within the country where it began.

Reporting by Dahlia Nehme; Editing by Susan Fenton and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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