OPEC, Russia meet again to approve biggest ever oil cut

BAKU/DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – OPEC, Russia and other oil producing nations were meeting on Sunday in a bid to clinch a deal on the biggest oil cut ever, amounting to 10 percent of global supply, after their initial efforts to support oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic were blocked by Mexico.

The group, known as OPEC+, was expected to start a video conference at 1600 GMT.

On Thursday, OPEC+ outlined plans to cut output by more than a fifth, or by 10 million barrels per day (bpd), but Mexico balked at the production cuts it was asked to make, delaying the signing of a final deal.

“The ministerial meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members is a follow-up after the April 9 meeting,” the energy ministry of OPEC+ member Azerbaijan said on Sunday.

Measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus have destroyed demand for fuel and driven down oil prices, straining budgets of oil producers and hammering the U.S. shale industry, which is more vulnerable to low prices due to its higher costs.

OPEC+ also said it wanted producers outside the group, such as the United States, Canada, Brazil and Norway, to cut a further 5% or 5 million bpd.

Canada and Norway signalled willingness to cut and the United States, where legislation makes it hard to act in tandem with cartels such as OPEC, has said its output would fall steeply by itself this year due to low prices.

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday that U.S. President Donald Trump had offered to make extra U.S. cuts on his behalf, an unusual offer by a Trump who has long railed against OPEC.

Trump, who had threatened Saudi Arabia with oil tariffs if it did not fix the market’s oversupply problem, said Washington would help Mexico by picking up “some of the slack” and being reimbursed later.

He did not say how this would work and OPEC leader Saudi Arabia has so far refused to accept the fix, according to OPEC sources.

Global oil demand is estimated to have fallen by a third as more than 3 billion people are locked down in their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A 15 percent cut in supply might not be enough to arrest the price decline, banks Goldman Sachs and UBS predicted last week, saying Brent prices would fall back to $20 per barrel from $32 at the moment and $70 at the start of the year.

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