Khalid al-Falih, the energy minister of OPEC’s largest producer and de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, reiterated on Sunday his hope that the cartel would reach a deal to extend its oil production cuts into the second half of the year at a meeting that will probably be held in early July.
“We are hoping that we will reach consensus to extend our agreement when we meet in two-weeks-time in Vienna,” al-Falih said at a G20 energy and environment ministerial meeting in Japan on Sunday, as carried by Reuters, suggesting that the current OPEC schedule of holding the OPEC and OPEC+ meetings next week, on June 25 and 26, would be slipping to the first week of July.
Asked about when OPEC would meet, al-Falih said, as carried by Reuters:
“Probably the first week of July”.
While OPEC and Russia have been busy trying to assure the markets that they would be working toward a solution to rebalance the oil market, reports started to emerge in the past few weeks that the parties can’t even agree on whether to hold the meetings as scheduled on June 25-26 or to push it into July.
Reports have it that Russia has requested a delay of the June meeting into early July, while Iran, which is at odds with the Gulf Arab members of OPEC, has reportedly told the cartel that it wouldn’t agree to the group postponing the key meeting expected to discuss the fate of the production cut pact expiring at the end of June.
Judging from al-Falih’s comments from Sunday, Saudi Arabia and Russia are calling the shots and they may have worked a way to have the meeting held on July 3 and 4.
The Saudi energy minister started to try to talk up the oil prices earlier this month, saying that “On the OPEC side, a rollover is almost in the bag,” with non-OPEC Russia the only big unknown yet.
Neither al-Falih’s comments on Sunday, nor the tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman last week were able to prop up oil prices on Monday morning, as oil demand concerns continued to weigh on sentiment, sending WTI Crude down 0.55% at $52.22 and Brent Crude down 0.44% at $61.74 as of 09:15 a.m. EDT.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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