Saudi hopes for consensus on future of global oil deal before November OPEC meet

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia hopes to reach a consensus with Russia and other major oil producers on the future of a global deal to cut oil output before an OPEC meeting in November, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Friday.

Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih attends a meeting of the 4th OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee in St. Petersburg, Russia July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

Falih was speaking in Moscow two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was possible that the supply reduction deal, which is due to expire in March, could run to the end of next year, although Russia has not made any commitment.

Saudi Arabia has made no firm pledge to extend the deal, but Falih said on Thursday his country was “flexible” regarding Moscow’s suggestion.

“I am looking forward to reaching a consensus, working with you in the next few weeks before we have the Nov. 30 meeting,” Falih told his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak.

“As satisfied as we are with the progress made, I think you agree that our job is not done and there are still uncertainties and headwinds on global oil markets,” he said. “We have to keep our eyes clearly on the road and our hands on the wheel.”

Saudi Arabia and Russia helped secure a deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 rival suppliers to cut output from January this year until the end of March 2018 in an effort to reduce a supply glut on world markets and prop up prices.

When asked if there would be a decision to extend the deal in November, Falih said he didn’t know.

Novak said Russia had no disagreements with Saudi Arabia regarding oil markets but needed to discuss the issue further and there was every possibility for joint action between the two countries.

Russia this week hosted Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and a raft of Saudi officials and dignitaries, cementing a relationship that is pivotal for world oil prices and could decide the outcome of the conflict in Syria.

Salman is the first sitting Saudi monarch to ever travel to Russia and his visit has been accompanied by a slew of deals worth several billion dollars.

Falih said the current warm ties between Moscow and Riyadh were a sign of things to come.

“Relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have been stably improving,” he said. “(They) clearly went to a quite new level after the visit by the King.”

Additional reporting by Polina Devitt; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Susan Fenton