Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi Minister of State for Energy Affairs of Qatar speaks prior to the start of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi Minister of State for Energy Affairs of Qatar speaks prior to the start of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

OPEC looks to cut oil production to support falling price

The price of both benchmark U.S. crude and the standard for internationally traded oil fell 22 per cent in November.

OPEC countries were gathered Thursday to find a way to support the falling price of oil, with analysts predicting the cartel and some key allies, like Russia, would agree to cut production by at least 1 million barrels per day.

Crude prices have been falling since October because major producers — including the U.S. — are pumping oil at high rates and due to fears that weaker economic growth could dampen energy demand. The price of both benchmark U.S. crude and the standard for internationally traded oil fell 22 per cent in November.

The oil minister of Saudi Arabia, the heavyweight within OPEC, said Thursday that the country was in favour of a cut.

“I think a million (barrels a day) will be adequate personally,” Khalid Al-Falih said upon arriving to the meeting in Vienna. That, he said, would include production for both OPEC countries as well as non-OPEC countries, like Russia, which have in recent years been co-ordinating their production limits with the cartel.

That view was echoed by others, including the oil ministers of Nigeria and Iraq.

“I am optimistic that the agreement will stabilize the market, will stop the slide in the price (of oil),” said Iraq’s Thamir Ghadhban.

Investors did not seem convinced, however, and were pushing the price of oil down sharply again on Thursday, partly due to broader concerns that a trade war between the U.S. and China could escalate and hurt global growth. The international benchmark for crude, Brent, was down $1.52 at $60.04 a barrel.

The fall in the price of oil will be a help to many consumers as well as energy-hungry businesses, particularly at a time when global growth is slowing.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been putting pressure publicly on OPEC to not cut production. He tweeted Wednesday that “Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!”

Read more: Republicans divided over Trump’s posture toward Saudi Arabia

Read more: Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

While Saudi Arabia has indicated it is willing to cut production, its decision may be complicated by Trump’s decision to not sanction the country over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. Senators say, after a briefing with intelligence services, that they are convinced that Saudi’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman , was involved in Khashoggi’s death. Some experts say that gives the U.S. some leverage over the Saudis, though Al-Falih denied that on Thursday.

When asked if the Saudis had permission from Trump to cut production, Al-Falih replied: “I don’t need permission from any foreign governments.”

Experts say this week’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will influence the price of oil over the coming months. How strongly it does so could depend on Russia’s contribution, which will be determined in a meeting on Friday.

Analysts at Commerzbank estimate that if Russia is willing to step up its production cuts, OPEC and non-OPEC countries could trim production by a combined 1.3-1.4 million barrels a day. This “would be enough to rebalance the oil market next year,” they wrote in a note to investors.

OPEC’s reliance on non-members like Russia highlights the cartel’s waning influence in oil markets, which it had dominated for decades. The OPEC-Russia alliance was made necessary to compete with the United States’ vastly increased production of oil in recent years, particularly since 2016. By some estimates, the U.S. this year became the world’s top crude producer.

OPEC is also riven by internal conflict, especially between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. One of the key questions in Thursday’s talks is whether to exempt Iran from having to cut production, as its energy industry is already hobbled by U.S. sanctions on its crude exports.

Meanwhile, Qatar, a Saudi rival and Iranian ally, said this week it would leave OPEC in January. While it said it was purely a practical decision because it mainly produces natural gas and little oil, the move was viewed as a symbolic snub to the Saudi-dominated organization.

___

David Rising and Geir Moulson in Berlin and Anthony Mills in Vienna contributed to this report. Piovano reported from London.

Kiyoko Metzler And Carlo Piovano, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are investigating after several vehicles were smashed and a basement was flooded along lower Cook Street March 2. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating smashed vehicles, flooded basement on Cook Street

Police seeking witnesses, footage of several ‘mischief’ incidents

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating sudden death in Beacon Hill Park

Police, paramedics responded to a report of an unresponsive person early Wednesday

Hundreds of child care spaces will be available in Greater Victoria in the coming two years. (Unsplash)
More than 300 child care spaces opening in Greater Victoria in next two years

Province announces spaces in Victoria, Sooke, Saanich and North Saanich

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

Dozens of reports of sexualized violence against a former employee of downtown Victoria restaurant Chuck’s Burger Bar were posted online in January. A police investigation is ongoing. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Chuck’s Burger Bar closes its doors after sexual assault allegations

Victoria police investigating reports of sexual misconduct, assault by former restaurant employee

Province invests $2M in three Vancouver Island food hubs

Hub network provides shared-use processing facilities to small agri-businesses

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Langley RCMP will be collecting donations for the local food bank at the Willoughby Town Centre parking lot (20678 Willoughby Town Centre Drive near the Royal Bank) on Saturday Dec. 19 from noon till 4 p.m. (file)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

Most Read