OPEC+ to meet Saturday on extending cuts, pushing for compliance

MOSCOW/DUBAI (Reuters) - OPEC and its allies led by Russia will meet on Saturday to discuss extending record oil production cuts and to push laggards such as Iraq and Nigeria to comply with existing curbs.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) outside its headquarters ahead of the OPEC and non-OPEC meeting, Austria, Dec. 6, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

The producers known as OPEC+ previously agreed to cut supply by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) during May and June to prop up prices that collapsed due to the coronavirus crisis. Cuts have been due to taper to 7.7 million bpd from July to December.

Two OPEC+ sources said Saudi Arabia and Russia had agreed to extend the deeper cuts until the end of July but said Riyadh was also pushing to extend them until the end of August.

“The conditions right now warrant hopefully successful meetings,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told Reuters on Friday, adding that coordination was under way to hold the OPEC and OPEC+ meetings on Saturday.

(Graphic: OPEC+ Cuts for May and June png, )

Benchmark Brent crude, which slumped below $20 a barrel in April, was up over 5% on Friday to trade at a three-month high above $42. Prices had slipped earlier this week from recent highs on uncertainty about when OPEC+ would meet.

Saturday’s video conferences would start with talks between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries at 1200 GMT and would be followed by a gathering of the OPEC+ group at 1400 GMT, OPEC said on Friday.

Three OPEC sources said an extension to cuts was contingent on high compliance. They said countries that produced above quota in May and June must promise to adhere to targets and compensate for any earlier overproduction by cutting more in July, August and September.

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The energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, Suhail Al Mazrouei, called for improved compliance in a letter to OPEC+.

“As a representative of the UAE, I find it disappointing and unacceptable that some of the largest producers with capacity like (Saudi Arabia) and Russia comply 100% or more while other major producers do less than 50%,” he wrote in the letter seen by Reuters.

Iraq, which had one of the worst compliance rates in May according to a Reuters survey of OPEC production, agreed to the additional pledge, OPEC sources said. [OPEC/O]

“The Saudis have been pushing Baghdad hard to comply,” one OPEC+ source said. “Iraq has agreed to the pledge to improve its full compliance with the cuts.”

Baghdad blamed technical reasons and a recent change in its government for weak compliance in May, another OPEC source said.

It was not clear how exactly Iraq would agree with oil majors working on its territory to reduce output further. The country is yet to assign a new oil minister with the finance minister also performing the role of acting oil minister.

Nigeria said in a statement earlier this week it had made “concerted efforts to adhere to [its cut] commitment and will continue to do so unequivocally”. The country aims to reach full compliance by the end of the month, the country’s oil minister Timipre Sylva said, adding that they measured their compliance in May at 52%.

Mexico, which resisted pressure by other OPEC+ members to cut output by 23% or 400,000 bpd, agreed to cut output by 100,000 bpd only for May and June at the April meeting. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday his country was not in a position to make any additional cuts, but that Energy Minister Rocio Nahle would be taking part in the OPEC+ meeting.

The OPEC+ technical and ministerial committee meetings, which review the market and usually make recommendations on policy, were now scheduled for June 17 and 18, OPEC+ sources said.

(Graphic: OPEC May Production, )

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Olesya Astakhova in Moscow and Rania El Gamal in Dubai; Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London, Anton Kolodyazhnyy in Moscow and Libby George in Abuja; Writing by Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by Edmund Blair and Frances Kerry