OPEC extends oil production cuts amid weaker demand outlook

VIENNA — OPEC is extending its deal to cut production for another nine months in bid to keep oil prices from sagging as the oil cartel faces a weakening outlook for global demand.

The decision among the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries came during a meeting Monday at the cartel’s headquarters in Vienna.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said “the commitment to a nine-month extension is unequivocal, very solid, very strong” among OPEC members. He said he expected non-member producing countries such as Russia to join in extending the cuts at a separate meeting on Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already said he backs an extension.

The current deal to support prices reduced production by 1.2 million barrels per day starting from Jan 1 for six months, and will now run into next year. Most of the cuts came from OPEC nations, who agreed to reduce 800,000 barrels per day, with the rest of the cuts coming from Russia and other non-OPEC countries, though not from the United States.

The cuts were aimed to put upward pressure on the price of oil and reduce oversupply.

“This more than compensates for whatever demand concerns that investors have been experiencing in recent months,” said Pavel Molchanov, energy analyst at Raymond James.

He noted that global demand could fall by 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per day but the OPEC cuts will reduce supply by about 1 million barrels per day.

Oil prices will likely increase over the next few months, but there are also many other variables besides OPEC that could impact the price, Molchanov said.

AP

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