September 19, 2017 / 7:59 AM / 2 years ago

Iraq oil min says premature to decide on future of output deal

FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates (Reuters) - OPEC and other oil producers are discussing several options for their supply-cut pact, including an extension and a further cut, but it is premature to decide on what to do beyond March, when the agreement expires, Iraq’s oil minister said on Tuesday.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi speaks during a media conference with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih (not pictured) in Baghdad, Iraq, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily

OPEC and producers including Russia have agreed to reduce output by about 1.8 million barrels per day until March 2018 in a bid to reduce global oil inventories and support oil prices.

“It is premature to come to a conclusion or decision seven months before March. There are talks, dialogues and an exchange of visions,” Jabar al-Luaibi told an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates.

He said some oil producers think the pact should be extended for three or four months, others want an extension until the end of 2018, while some, including Ecuador and Iraq, think there should be another round of supply cuts.

“There are proposals and there are ideas... I don’t think it will be implemented but it will be considered and studied,” Luaibi told Reuters in an interview when asked whether Baghdad will be pushing for a further 1 percent cut when OPEC meets next in November.

“The market now is reaching a good position of stabilization. There is an improvement in the market, so let us wait (and see) how the improvement gets from now until March. It is very early now to judge and decide what to do,” Luaibi said.

Iraq does not see the need for more output cuts now, but if there is a need the country will support consensus within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Luaibi said.

OPEC discussed cutting its oil output by a further 1-1.5 percent when it met in May, sources told Reuters, and could revisit the proposal should inventories remain high and continue to weigh on prices.

Iraq’s oil supply cuts are around 260,000 barrels per day, exceeding its planned share, Luaibi said.

Under the agreement, Iraq is required to cut output by 210,000 bpd to 4.351 million bpd.

Luaibi also said that while oil prices are determined by the market, a range of $55 to $60 a barrel is better for everyone. He added that Iraq is focusing on increasing its market share in Asia, particularly to China and India, and that he will be visiting those countries soon.

Reporting by Rania El Gamal; editing by Jason Neely

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