No chance of OPEC output cut, even after oil dips below $50: Gulf delegates

Thu Jan 8, 2015 1:36pm EST
 
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By Rania El Gamal and Alex Lawler

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and its Gulf OPEC allies are showing no sign of considering cutting output to boost oil prices, even though they dipped below $50 a barrel this week.

OPEC decided against limiting production at its last meeting on Nov 27, despite misgivings from non-Gulf members, after Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said the group needed to defend market share against U.S. shale oil and other competing sources.

Those misgivings have grown with a slide in oil prices to below half their level in June, hurting the economies of OPEC's smaller producers. Benchmark Brent dipped to $49.66 on Wednesday, its lowest since April 2009, before rising to $51 on Thursday.

OPEC has forecast an increasing surplus in 2015, citing rising supplies outside the group and lackluster growth in global demand. But the Gulf members, who account for more than half of OPEC output, are not wavering, arguing lower prices will slow competing supplies, spur economic growth and revive demand.

One delegate from a Gulf OPEC member said there was "no chance" of a rethink while another referred to the view that non-OPEC producers were to blame for the glut. "Naimi made it clear: OPEC will not cut alone," the second delegate said.

OPEC ministers and delegates have blamed non-OPEC producers such as Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan, as well as U.S. shale and tight oil production, for the oversupply in the market.

U.S. oil production has surged from around 5 million barrels per day to reach a near 30-year record of more than 9 million bpd over the past six years, propelled by the sudden emergence of shale oil output from North Dakota to Texas.

The OPEC delegates - government officials representing their countries who attend OPEC's meetings - spoke to Reuters after oil's brief fall below $50 on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.   Continued...

 
The price sign outside Costco in Westminster, Colorado, shows gas selling for $1.81.9 for the first time in years, December 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking