The new OPEC cut is to be carried out on a pro-rata basis, with Saudi Arabia seeing its production fall by the largest margin of 488,000 b/d. The smallest cut is to be made by Qatar, which is trimming output by just 39,000 b/d. The cuts are nominally effective from 1 January but, although members have been preparing themselves in expectation of a cut, it will be difficult to meet quotas for several weeks.

Overproduction is hindering the organisation’s aim of bringing the oil price to its preferred band of $22-28 a barrel. Nigeria has proved the worst culprit, with recent figures showing it has been producing some 300,000 b/d over its quota, accounting for about 50 per cent of OPEC overproduction.

Prices in early January remained below $20 a barrel of benchmark Brent crude, after having climbed about $1.50 a barrel in expectation of the cut. The price had also been buoyed by a change of weather in the US, where a new cold snap has created an increase in demand for fuel.