March 16, 2020 / 10:51 AM / 19 days ago

OPEC+ calls off technical talks, mediation attempts fail: sources

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - An OPEC and non-OPEC technical meeting planned for Wednesday in Vienna has been called off as attempts to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Russia after the collapse of their supply cut pact made no progress, sources said on Monday.

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

A deal to cut oil output struck by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia - a grouping known as OPEC+ that pumps over 40% of the world’s oil - is due to expire at the end of this month.

The panel, called the Joint Technical Committee, advises OPEC+ oil ministers.

Oil LCOc1 has fallen 39% to $31 a barrel since a ministerial meeting on March 6 collapsed without a deal to deepen or extend the cuts.

“It’s called off,” one of the sources said, without giving a reason. It was not immediately clear if the meeting would be rescheduled and some staff at OPEC’s headquarters are working from home as a coronavirus precaution.

Three years of cooperation between OPEC, Russia and other producers ended in acrimony on March 6 after Moscow refused to support deeper cuts to cope with the outbreak of coronavirus. OPEC responded by removing all limits on its own production.

There have been some attempts by other OPEC members to mediate between the Saudis and Russians but so far they seem fruitless and sources say it is hard for both sides to reach a compromise now.

“It is difficult now for the Saudis to back down,” said one OPEC source.

A separate source, asked about mediation attempts to resume talks on cuts, said it was “full on war” in reference to a price war between producers.

The Kremlin does not have any immediate plans for any contacts with the leadership of Saudi Arabia, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Peskov also said a decline in oil prices did not come as a surprise.

Additional reporting by Alexander Marrow and Anton Kolodyazhnyy, writing by Alex Lawler, editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely

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