OPEC to cut output to fix falling oil prices

The Doha Qatar skyline. Courtesy Qatar e-Government

Oil fell on Wednesday as a swelling supply glut and signs of an economic slowdown weighed on crude prices a day ahead of an OPEC meeting at which the producer club is expected to decide supply cuts.

OPEC members met on Thursday in Vienna and will hold talks with allies such as Russian Federation on Friday.

He tells reporters the nations are "after a stable market and also a fair price for the producers as well as the consumers".

Saudi Arabia has indicated it wants the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to cut output by at least 1.3 million barrels per day, or 1.3% of global production.

He continued, saying: "If not everyone was ready to cut production then we will wait, and the options include reducing production with 500,000 to 1.5 million barrels per day".

US oil prices were little changed after the news.

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So, this might mean a mere conservative cut in crude output - a middle ground that is not too disappointing in the eyes of participants in the oil market, yet not too severe to prompt angry reaction from Washington.

"The increasingly bipolar relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. makes it extremely hard for the Saudis to announce a cut even if it [along with the GCC and Russia] decides to remove the volumes they have put into the market since May - around 1.5 million bpd", London-based consultancy Energy Aspects said in a note.

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.

Al-Falih said a decision would take all day Friday.

"They want OPEC to make a cut, and they kind of want Donald Trump to stop tweeting about oil".

President Trump recently accused the group of "ripping off the rest of the world" and keeping oil prices "artificially high".

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OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, in particular, finds itself in an especially delicate position in the wake of the murder of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"We're still debating the distribution" of any possible cuts, he added.

Yet, shale production can still grow at oil prices that are not sufficient to balance the budgets of OPEC producers, Texas oil and gas economist Karr Ingham told Reuters.

Nevertheless, the volume and distribution of the cuts will depend on the participation of Russian Federation, whose energy minister Alexander Novak is only expected in Vienna on Friday.

"The stakes are high now for OPEC". One of the key questions in Thursday's talks is whether to exempt Iran from having to cut production, as its energy industry is already hobbled by USA sanctions on its crude exports. A delegate from another country said some members believe a smaller reduction would be adequate.

However, OPEC's third-biggest producer Iran wants to be exempted from any such measures.

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The American transformation from a net importer to exporter is a direct result of the expanding United States oil industry; with "thousands of new wells" appearing in Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania.

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