Crude oil output cuts “only viable option” for market, OPEC head says

By Wael Mahdi, Mahmoud Habboush and Salma El Wardany on 11/13/2017

ABU DHABI and CAIRO (Bloomberg) -- The oil market is re-balancing at a quickening pace and production cuts are the “only viable option” to restore stability, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said.  

OPEC should decide at its meeting later this month whether or not to extend the cuts, United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said in a speech at a conference in Abu Dhabi. Neighboring Oman backs prolonging the output limits beyond March and sees producers extending them until the end of 2018, Oil Minister Mohammed Hamad Al Rumhy told reporters.

OPEC raised estimates for the amount of crude it will need to pump to meet demand next year by 400,000 bpd to 33.4 MMbpd, according to a monthly report Monday from the group. As that’s about 670,000 bpd more than OPEC produced in the third quarter, global inventories would diminish further in 2018 if the group and its allies continue to keep supplies restrained. Stockpiles have declined by more than 180 MMbbl this year alone, Barkindo said in Abu Dhabi.

Output cuts by OPEC and other producers such as Russia and Oman have started to pay off, with Brent crude prices trading close to a two-year high. OPEC will meet in Vienna on Nov. 30 to review the pact on cuts, which took effect in January, and possibly extend it. Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq already signaled they would be open to extending the curbs.

Stability Returning

Brent has gained 12%this year, and the benchmark grade was trading unchanged at $63.52/bbl in London.

“We are seeing clear indications that the market is re-balancing at an accelerating pace and stability is steadily returning,” Barkindo said. “I am certain that if we had not mobilized ourselves when we did, building consensus and jointly taking action in responding to the crisis, the industry would be in worse condition than it is today.”

The UAE’s Mazrouei affirmed that view, saying that coordinated cuts by OPEC and suppliers outside the group have helped trim crude inventories from record storage levels. The UAE, OPEC’s fourth-largest producer, sees no need for the organization to hold an extraordinary meeting in the first quarter of next year, he said.

“I am optimistic about the whole of 2018,” which will be a “recovery year” for oil markets, he said in a speech at the Abu Dhabi conference. U.S. shale output, a contributor to the global glut, has responded more slowly than expected to the recent increase in crude prices, he later told reporters.

Oman, a member of the producer committee monitoring the cuts, added its support to prolonging them until the end of 2018. The largest Arab oil producer outside of OPEC expects crude to stay above $60/bbl and sees stable prices next year, Al Rumhy said in an interview.

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