OPEC+ Talks Stall as Russia, Saudi Arabia Disagree on Output Cuts

The global OPEC+ alliance of the biggest oil producers found itself stuck yet again on Wednesday, after a day of talks that ended with its two most important members split over whether they should deepen production cuts to offset the huge demand hit from the coronavirus epidemic, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The debate between Russia and Saudi Arabia was being closely watched across the energy industry, as oil prices are down more than 20 per cent since the beginning of the year. The fortunes of resource-dependent economies from Africa to Asia, as well as corporate giants like Exxon Mobil Corp and shale drillers in Texas, could turn on the cartel’s decision.

Riyadh and Moscow were far apart after Wednesday’s meeting of the OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee in Vienna, delegates said. The kingdom’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman was pushing for a supply reduction as big as 1.5 million barrels a day. His Russian counterpart Alexander Novak favored maintaining output at current levels through to the end of the second-quarter.

“The Committee did make a wonderful recommendation on oil policy,” Prince Abdulaziz told reporters. However, he declined to reveal the details, saying he preferred to maintain suspense.

The JMMC, which oversees the accord between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, did not choose between the Russian and Saudi proposals, said a delegate, who asked not to be named because the talks were private. “Instead, it has been left to OPEC’s full ministerial meeting on Thursday to consider both approaches.”

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