Saudis signal readiness to 'tweak' OPEC+ oil deal

Saudis signal readiness to 'tweak' OPEC+ oil deal

The alliance is currently sticking to deep cuts to production agreed in April in order to protect prices from a fall

 Representative Image. Credit: AFP Photo

Members of the OPEC+ club of oil producers need to be ready to adjust their existing deal on output cuts in order to prevent another slump in prices, the group's kingpin Saudi Arabia said Tuesday.

"We must be ready to tweak the terms of our agreement if need be," said Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman in a live-streamed address ahead of a meeting of the group, which comprises the OPEC club of nations as well as allies such as Russia.

"Flexibility and pro-activeness must continue to be the guiding principles of our deliberations today and in the future," he added.

The alliance is currently sticking to deep cuts to production agreed in April in order to protect prices from a fall similar to that seen when global demand collapsed in the wake of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the deal currently in force, the current reduction in output of 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) is due to be tapered to 5.8 million bpd as of January 2021.

Despite the lifeline for the market represented by encouraging news on several coronavirus vaccines, many market watchers expect the January date to shifted back by three to six months.

The delay would be signed off at the next full meeting of the group on November 30 and December 1.

The return of production from the oilfields of Libya -- to the tune of a million barrels a day according to Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) -- has added further downward pressure on prices.

The conflict-plagued state had, like Venezuela and Iran, agreed exemptions from the cuts.

Prince Abdulaziz congratulated fellow OPEC+ members on their achievements in hitting the targets for cuts thus far.

"We achieved 99.5 percent of what we set out to do," he said, while reminding other countries that "we must maintain high compliance".