Iran downplays chances of oil deal, UAE keen on freeze
By Alex Lawler and Rania El Gamal
ALGIERS (Reuters) - Iran downplayed on Monday the chances of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers clinching an output-restraint deal in Algeria this week even though several other members of the group said they still hoped for steps to tackle a price-eroding glut of crude.
Oil prices have more than halved from 2014 levels due to oversupply, prompting OPEC producers and rival Russia to seek a market rebalancing that would boost revenues from oil exports and help their crippled budgets.
The predominant idea since early 2016 among producers has been to agree to freeze output levels, although market watchers have said such a move would fail to reduce unwanted barrels.
Sources told Reuters last week that Saudi Arabia had offered to reduce its output if Iran agreed to freeze production, a shift in Riyadh's position as the kingdom had previously refused to discuss output cuts.
As delegations gathered in Algiers, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said expectations should be modest.
"This is an advisory meeting and that's all we should expect from it," he was quoted as saying by oil ministry news service SHANA before he left Tehran. "The talks among OPEC members can be used for the OPEC summit in Vienna in November."
Crude prices rose by 3.5 percent on Monday, recouping most of the losses sustained on Friday, when hopes for an output deal in Algeria faded.
One OPEC delegate said the focus was now firmly on trying to persuade Iran to freeze output at levels acceptable for the rest of the producer group. Continued...