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OPEC, oil producers could extend cuts for six months
March 27, 2017, 11:23 am

OPEC total production declines would have been stronger had it not been increased output from Iran and Nigeria [Xinhua]

There is growing momentum that an agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC members to curb oil production output be extended another six months in the hopes of re-balancing falling prices.

A committee bringing together the aforementioned oil producers had recommended the creation of a technical group which would study the prospects of the six-month extension.

Oil experts say delays to make such a move, however, will likely bring oil prices further down.

At press time, international benchmark Brent Crude had fallen another 0.47 per cent to $50.56, while US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 0.77 per cent to $47.60.

Oil prices had been on the upswing since OPEC members and major non-OPEC producers agreed to significant cuts in production output. In mid-February oil prices had reached $57 a barrel.

Non-OPEC oil producing countries agreed to cut output by 558,000 barrels a day late last year, with the bulk of the cut falling on Russia, one of the world’s largest energy exporting heavyweights.

Russia agreed to cut 300,000 barrels per day silencing fears among some energy analysts that it would not live up to its commitment made several months ago by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In January, OPEC total production fell by 890,000 barrels a day, with most of the cuts coming from oil giant Saudi Arabia. But the production dip would have been larger had it not been for increased output in Iran and Nigeria, exempt from the current agreement.

This has frustrated efforts to bring the oil prices down.

Just last week, Vagit Alekperov, the president of Russia’s largest energy company Lukoil, called on OPEC and non-OPEC countries to extend their oil production cuts to help prop prices.

Oil prices have recently dipped despite the cuts and largely due to a revival in shale oil production in the US.

OPEC may be feeling the squeeze to do more to prop up prices. Most of its members are facing budgetary deficits, while countries like Venezuela, which depend on oil exports for most of their budget, have entered a period of depression and stagnation.

OPEC is due to meet for its summit in Vienna in May.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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