HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has not discussed “at this stage” extending production cuts into next year, the group’s president said on Sunday, adding that reducing global crude supply inventories remained its focus.
Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, the United Arab Emirates oil minister and OPEC’s president, said in a brief interview ahead of the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston: “We feel there is still some market overhang.”
The group and allies agreed last year to cut combined output by about 1.8 million barrels per day to drain a global oil glut. The agreement began in January 2017 and runs through the end of this year.
Production cuts by the group and non-OPEC member countries led by Russia have helped stabilize oil prices mostly above $61 a barrel this year and any decision to phase out or extend the curbs would affect global prices.
Saudi Arabia said last week it hoped the agreement could be relaxed next year and followed by a permanent framework to stabilize oil markets after the deal expires.
“There are no talks about that (extending cuts into 2019) at this stage,” Mizrouei said.
Mizrouei also said the oil cartel last year discussed OPEC-member Venezuela’s falling production and offered technical aid to help restore the South American country’s output. Venezuela’s oil production fell 13 percent in 2017 to a 28-year low of about 2.072 million bpd.
OPEC believes Venezuela will be able to rebuild its production, Mizrouei said.
The United States, Canada and Mexico recently formed a working group to address the potential impact on Caribbean nations of the U.S. restricting imports of Venezuelan crude. Caribbean countries received subsidized fuel and earn income from hosting oil storage and shipment facilities used by Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA oil firm.
Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney