Exclusive: OPEC looked at extra 1-1.5 percent oil supply cut, could revive proposal

Thu Jun 1, 2017 8:13am EDT
 
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By Rania El Gamal and Alex Lawler

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC discussed cutting its oil output by a further 1-1.5 percent when it met last week, three sources familiar with the matter said, and could revisit the proposal should inventories remain high and continue to weigh on prices.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member producers ultimately decided at their May 25 meeting to extend their existing supply-cutting agreement for nine months, although oil ministers including Saudi Arabia's Khalid al-Falih confirmed deeper curbs had been debated.

One of the sources said the idea floated was to widen OPEC's supply cut by about 300,000 barrels per day (bpd).

That would equate to a further curb of about 1 percent of April output of nearly 32 million bpd and bring OPEC's total pledged cut to 1.5 million bpd, from 1.2 million bpd.

"They wanted to do some scenarios and get around 300,000 bpd of extra cuts to be distributed among everyone," the source, who declined to be identified, said. "But I think they decided to wait and see how the market will react first."

The initial price reaction to OPEC's May 25 decision was one of disappointment that producers had not deepened their cuts. Brent crude fell 5 percent to below $52 a barrel and was trading near there on Thursday, half its level of mid-2014.

OPEC officials nonetheless hope an inventory glut will ease in the next few months as market fundamentals move closer to balance. OPEC is not scheduled to meet again to set policy until November.

"By the next meeting, if prices and the situation remain like this, they will have to do something ... Everyone will be on board (for more cuts) if prices remain like they are now," the source said, adding that he expected the market and prices to improve by the third quarter.   Continued...

 
A TV camera is seen outside the headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, May 25, 2017.  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger