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Major Oil-Producing Nations To Discuss Possible Easing Of Production Cuts

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak (file photo)
Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak (file photo)

The OPEC oil cartel was set to convene this week for discussions on whether to increase oil production amid signs that global demand was returning to pre-pandemic levels

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported that key cartel producers, such as Saudi Arabia, along with important nonmembers like Russia, were scheduled to hold a video conference on July 15 to debate the organization’s current and future production.

Major production cuts have helped stabilize crude prices, which had spiraled downward because of a drop in demand due to lockdowns and business closures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

In April, OPEC+, a group of 23 oil-producing countries that includes Russia, agreed to reduce output for May and June by about 10 percent of global supply.

Now, Saudi Arabia and most participants in the alliance support loosening the curbs in production, the reports said.

The cartel’s Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee will debate whether to keep the caps in place for another month or restore some supplies as originally planned. Some members are leaning toward letting some supply be restored, Bloomberg reported.

Major Russian oil companies were also preparing to increase production next month, Bloomberg said.

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said earlier this month that the government had taken no position on extending the cuts. He also, however, signaled a preference for the group to stick to previous cuts.

Oil prices have recovered from a low of around $20 a barrel in late April to $43 as of last week.

The International Energy Agency on July 10 issued a report saying that the worst effects of the coronavirus on global oil demand have passed.

But the agency also said that a recent surge in new infections and difficulty lowering death rates in the United States, along with the coronavirus' reemergence in Asia, was “casting a shadow over the outlook.”

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