OPEC talks end without deal for cut in production, Russian Federation holds back

The Doha Qatar skyline. Courtesy Qatar e-Government

Oil prices have fallen by nearly a third since October to around $62 per barrel after Saudi Arabia raised production to make up for the drop in Iranian exports.

Iran, Saudi's regional rival and fellow OPEC member, has resisted any notion of cutting its output as its crude exports are being pinched already by US sanctions.

"We're looking for a sufficient cut to balance the market, equally distributed between countries", Al-Falih told reporters ahead of an OPEC meeting in the Austrian capital.

Russia's second-largest oil producer, Lukoil PJSC, is ready to comply with any request from the Kremlin but hopes output cuts won't be necessary, said Chief Executive Officer Vagit Alekperov.

Oil prices briefly pared losses after government data showed US crude stockpiles fell by 7.3 million barrels in the week through November 30.

Since early October, crude oil has lost around 30 percent of its value amid surging supply and fears that an economic downturn will erode fuel demand.

The boom in shale production in the United States has made the country the world's largest crude producer, surpassing both Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation for the first time in decades.

The US sold overseas last week a net 211,000 barrels a day of crude and refined products such as gasoline and diesel, compared to net imports of more than 2 million barrels a day on average so far in 2018, and an annual peak of more than 12 million barrels a day in 2005, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

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Possibly complicating any Opec decision is the crisis around the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

OPEC meets on Thursday in Vienna, followed by talks with allies such as Russian Federation on Friday.

Iran is now subject to USA sanctions and as such won't participate in any curbs, the country's oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh said.

Saudi Arabia has indicated it wants OPEC and its allies to curb output by at least 1.3 million barrels per day, or 1.3 percent of global production, news agency Reuters reported from Vienna.

The group may agree a formal cut of under a million barrels a day, Nigeria's oil minister, Emanuel Kachikwu said in a TV interview on Thursday morning.

"The oil cut will be between 1.0 and 1.3 million bpd".

Iran has said it is carefully monitoring the next steps by some OPEC members and their allies which have "arbitrarily" ramped up oil production, leading to a crash in prices. The United States is not part of any output-limiting initiative due to its anti-trust legislation and fragmented oil industry. "Given the recent ramp-up in supply from these producers, this represents a year-on-year decline in crude output of just 0.2 million barrels per day for 2019", Hittle said. Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the cartel, is seeking to walk a fine line between preventing a surplus and appeasing President Donald Trump.

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