OPEC likely to extend output cuts, but price relief elusive

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OPEC likely to extend output cuts, but price relief elusive

The agreement, which marked a major policy turnaround for OPEC, helped push prices to their current level of between United States dollars 50-55 per barrel, but was due to expire on June 30. Opec meets formally on Thursday with an announcement expected around 4pm BST.

Ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC oil exporters are meeting in Vienna today and tomorrow to decide whether to extend production cuts that have been in effect since the start of the year.

"An extension is in the bag", said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group said earlier.

UAE Minister of Energy Suhal Mohamed Al Mazrouri (center) speaks to journalists in his hotel in Vienna, Austria on Wednesday on the eve of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting.

Also, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih gave the thumbs up when asked whether the committee had agreed on a nine-month extension.

"We see risks for a renewed surplus later next year if OPEC and Russia's production rises to their expanding capacity and shale grows at an unbridled rate", Goldman Sachs said in a note. Oman, the sixth country on the panel, is not opposed to nine months but wants more discussion before giving its support, Oil and Gas Ministry Undersecretary Selim Aloufi said in an interview in Vienna Tuesday.

"The JMMC should continue monitoring conformity levels as well as market conditions and immediate prospects, and recommend further adjustment actions, if deemed necessary", the statement added.

For doubters, the production cuts and rising prices threw a lifeline to USA shale producers and encouraged them to ramp up drilling even faster, jeopardizing the long-term market balance. To be more specific, the cartel expects the demand for crude oil to increase by 1.3% YoY all the way up to 95,6 million barrels a day.

Oil's earlier price decline, which started in 2014, forced Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia to tighten their belts and led to unrest in some producing countries including Venezuela and Nigeria.

Financial information firm IHS Markit sees OPEC revenues showing a modest gain this year after dropping from their peak of $1.2 trillion in 2012. Prices for both benchmarks ended at their highest levels in more than a month. It had ratcheted up production to an unsustainably high level as the cuts were negotiated so it could just go back to normal output once the time came to cut.

Oil has been buoyed in recent days by reports that Saudi Arabia has garnered support within OPEC for a nine-month extension of ongoing production cuts.

Iran boosted output by about 800,000 barrels a day a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, recouping some of the sales it lost to rivals while shackled by sanctions.

Any decision to extend cuts for longer than 9 months or a move to deepen cuts would boost sentiment, especially if OPEC can persuade additional countries to join the cuts.

Those small players control thousands of wells that cheaply extract oil and gas from shale formations across the USA using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Traders also weighed President Trump's plan to sell some crude from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of his broader budget proposal.

In December, Congress approved the sale of $2 billion of crude over three years from the SPR for maintenance and repairs.

Several delegates and ministers including Algeria's said they did not believe cuts could be extended by a full year.

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