OPEC, partners meet in Vienna to discuss 2019 output

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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, and its partners, led by Russia, will meet in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday to discuss crude oil production plan for the coming year.

The two-day meeting, holding November 6-7, will discuss cutting output, just months after agreeing to pump more oil.

A recent survey by Reuters showed that OPEC’s November production fell from a two-year high due to U.S. sanctions on Iran, although most of the output gap left by Iran was plugged by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in response to calls from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The 15-member body pumped 33.11 million barrels per day in the month, down 160,000 bpd from October, which was the highest by OPEC as a group since December 2016.

The survey adds to indications that OPEC output remains ample despite U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran last month. Oil prices have slid 30 percent since early October on worries a new glut may emerge.

With Saudi Arabia and Russia pumping at record rates, U.S. output surging and forecasts pointing to lower demand in 2019 due to a slowing economy, some analysts are sceptical the producers will avoid generating a surplus.

“The most likely outcome of next (this) week’s OPEC meeting is a fudge,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM. “Russia and Saudi Arabia will agree to curb production but by less than is needed to prevent a supply imbalance in early 2019.”

OPEC, Russia and other non-members agreed in June to return to 100 percent compliance with output cuts that began in January 2017, after months of underproduction in Venezuela and Angola that had pushed adherence above 160 percent.

In November, the 12 OPEC members bound by the supply-limiting agreement boosted compliance to 120 percent as production fell in Iran, from a revised 110 percent in October, the survey found.

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