Oil output cuts may be extended into 2019

26 March 2018
Saudi Energy Minister suggests more is needed to normalise global oil stockpiles

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih has said he expects the agreement between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and 11 other oil producers led by Russia to reduce crude output to be extended into next year.

“We still have some time to go before we bring inventories down to the level we consider normal and we will identify that by mid-year when we meet in Vienna. And then we will hopefully by year-end identify the mechanism by which we will work in 2019,” said Al-Falih speaking to news agency Reuters.

The international pact to cut output by 1.8 million barrels a day, in force since November 2016 and renewed until the end of this year on 30 November last year, has been almost solely credited for bringing about balance in the global oil market and propping up prices.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, is currently trading at slightly above $70 a barrel, despite being under that mark for the most part of this year due to rising production from US shale oil.

Although global oil stockpiles are down considerably from two years ago, it is not enough for some participants in the deal. There have already been warnings that with Venezuela’s steady oil production decline the market could even swing into a deficit before the year’s end, despite the booming shale oil production in the US.

Saudi Arabia may want a supply deficit, which would no doubt push prices up above $70 a barrel to maybe even $80. That’s the price level that experts believe Saudi Aramco is aiming for in order to get the $2tn valuation sought by Riyadh.

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