OPEC+ to Hold Committee Meeting by Phone on Coronavirus Fears
The next meeting of the OPEC+ technical committee to assess compliance with the group’s final month of production cuts will be held by phone, after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
The Joint Technical Committee is not attended by oil ministers and doesn’t have the power to make policy decisions, so its talks next week won’t have any bearing on the collapse of the OPEC+ production-cuts agreement and subsequent price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
The meeting is scheduled for March 18 and will be in the format of a teleconference, Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister Nurlan Nogaev told reporters Thursday. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said it was a reasonable decision in the circumstances.
The alliance between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and several non-members including Kazakhstan has all but collapsed after its two largest producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia, disagreed over the need for deeper output cuts and started a price war. Oil tumbled by about a quarter this week after the Saudis slashed official pricing for their crude and promised to flood the world with oil.
Growing fears over the coronavirus outbreak led U.S. President Donald Trump to significantly restrict travel from Europe and forced Italy into an unprecedented lock-down until March 25. The pathogen has also slashed demand for oil, with OPEC cutting its oil growth forecast for this year by 920,000 barrels a day to 60,000.
The OPEC+ Joint Technical Committee includes Saudi Arabia and Russia, as well as Algeria, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.
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