Saudi, Russian ministers make show of unity on oil output cuts

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The energy ministers of Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s largest oil-producing countries, gave a display of unity at a conference in Houston on Tuesday evening, emphasising their commitment to the deal to curb output agreed between Opec and 11 non-Opec countries last year.

The two ministers said they were working to reach full compliance with the agreed production cuts, which was estimated by Opec, the oil producers’ group, at 86 per cent in January.

The agreed curbs run out at the end of June, and the ministers said an extension beyond that point would depend on two factors: how far countries were complying with the agreement, and how fast global oil inventories were falling.

Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, described compliance with the agreement as “very satisfactory”, but added: “I am a perfectionist, and I always seek 100 per cent delivery on our promises.”

He added that the ministers had been meeting to discuss how to increase compliance while at the CERAWeek conference held by IHS Markit, and had also been holding meetings and phone calls with other countries.

As a result, he said, he had “reasonable confidence that whatever gap remains from that perfection that we seek… will be closed very soon.”

Alexander Novak, Russia’s energy minister, said his country was “fully committed” to the agreement, and called on all the other countries involved to reach full compliance.

He said Russia was, as agreed, reaching 300,000 barrels per day of production “adjustment on an accelerated schedule.”

Mohammad Barkindo, Opec’s secretary-general, played down concerns that oil inventories in the US remained unexpectedly high, saying that companies had begun to run down offshore stocks.

“If you look at the totality, the trend has started. We have seen big companies now destocking offshore,” he said. “We are closely watching this trend, and it will be magnified, I believe, in the months to come.”

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