OPEC+ panel's informal online talks postponed to Sunday - source

MOSCOW/DUBAI (Reuters) - A panel of OPEC+, a group of leading oil producing countries, will hold informal online talks on Sunday - a day later than scheduled - prior to meetings planned for next week, a source with the knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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The talks had initially been scheduled for Saturday, according to a letter seen by Reuters and the source. The source said they will be now held on Sunday. No reason for the postponement has been given.

OPEC+ is debating whether to ease oil output cuts from Jan. 1, as it previously agreed, or to continue producing at the same rate amid sluggish oil demand and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, seen by Reuters, had initially said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak will attend Saturday’s informal consultations of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee’s heads.

Novak was energy minister until earlier this month, leading Moscow’s efforts to forge close ties with OPEC and clinch the deal on output cuts.

Saudi Arabia will be represented by its Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

OPEC+ will meet on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 to decide output policy for next year.

The group was due to raise output by 2 million barrels per day in January - about 2% of global consumption - as part of a steady easing of record supply cuts implemented this year.

But with demand for fuel weakening because of a second wave of the pandemic, OPEC+ has been considering delaying the increase or even making further cuts.

On Thursday, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said his country needed to produce more oil to support its economy and build infrastructure for its sizeable population, many of whom are poor.

He urged OPEC to consider that when sharing oil production cuts, according to a statement from his office.

Nigeria, earlier this month, asked OPEC to reevaluate its oil production quota by categorizing its Agbami field as condensate.

Doing so would improve Nigeria’s compliance. Three out of OPEC’s six secondary sources count the stream as crude, with the rest considering it a condensate.

In response, Algeria, which currently holds the OPEC presidency, said any attempt to change oil production quotas could lead to oil market collapse.

Additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja and Ahmad Ghaddar in London; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, David Evans, Louise Heavens and Marguerita Choy