OPEC+ will take responsible approach to virus: Saudi energy minister

Riyadh (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Tuesday he was confident that OPEC and its partner oil-producing nations, the so-called OPEC+ group, would respond responsibly to the spread of the coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud arrives at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

He also said Saudi Arabia and Russia would continue to engage regarding oil policy.

“Everything serious requires being attended to,” the minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, told reporters at an industry conference in Riyadh.

An OPEC+ committee this month recommended the group

deepen its output cuts by an additional 600,000 barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia supports the further oil production cut, but Russia is yet to announce its final position on the matter.

The minister said he was still talking with Moscow and that he was confident of Riyadh’s partnership with the rest of the OPEC+ group.

“We did not run out of ideas, we have not closed our phones. There is always a good way of communicating through conference calls,” he said.

Regarding the coronavirus, which has impacted OPEC member Iran, he said OPEC+ members should not be complacent about the virus but added he was confident every OPEC+ member was a responsible and responsive producer. The flu-like SARS-CoV-2 virus which first broke out in China has now spread to more than 20 countries. “Of course there is an impact and we are assessing, but we’ll do whatever we can in our next meeting and we’ll address that issue,” UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said at the same industry conference. Saudi Aramco [2222.SE] CEO Amin Nasser on Monday said he expected a short-lived impact on oil demand and consumption to rise in the second half of the year.”We think this is short term and I am confident that in the second half of the year there is going to be an improvement on the demand side, especially from China,” he told Reuters.

Aramco had seen minimal impact from a drop in oil demand due to coronavirus spread, he said during a panel discussion in Riyadh.

“We expect by the second half things are back to normal. There is an impact on markets but Aramco has dealt with many crises before,” Nasser said, adding the impact on the company was “minimal”.

The CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) also described the impact as “temporary” at the same event.

“Nobody can deny that there has been a temporary impact from coronavirus, we have seen that on global markets in terms of demand,” Sultan Al Jaber said.

Oil climbed on Tuesday as investors sought bargains after crude benchmarks slumped almost 4% in the previous session, although concerns about the global spread of the virus capped gains.

Reporting by Rania elGamal and Marwa Rashad; writing by Dahlia Nehme; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely