OPEC in new push to clinch first deal to curb output since 2008

Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:18am EDT
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By Rania El Gamal and Alex Lawler

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - As far as OPEC decision-making is concerned, Algeria, which plays host to oil ministers next week, has always been the land of surprises.

The last two meetings of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) held in Algeria -- in 2004 and 2008 -- shocked the market with unexpected production cuts to prop up prices.

The stars could align for OPEC again next week when its ministers return to Algiers and look ready to curb output for the first time in eight years, according to OPEC officials and sources.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, arch-rivals in oil markets and in politics, are sending conciliatory signals that they want to work together, along with Russia which is involved in talks although not a member of OPEC. This comes despite their backing for different sides in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

Behind the scenes, OPEC experts are trying to work out last-minute details for an output-limiting deal that would impress the market but also allow oil ministers to claim victories at home in front of their respective domestic audiences.

"This time I think (things are) a little bit different because circumstances are a little bit better, helping (producers) to reach a deal," Iraq's OPEC governor Falah Alamri said on Thursday.

He said OPEC had to act when it meets Russia on the sidelines of an energy producers and consumers conference in Algeria next week simply because current oil prices at $45-50 per barrel were not acceptable to the group's members. [O/R]

Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia have all ramped up output to historic highs over the past year to fight for market share with higher-cost producers such as the United States where production has been declining due to low oil prices.   Continued...

The logo of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is pictured at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, August 21, 2015.  REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader