OPEC Says Cuts in Oil Supply Will Extend Through 2018

The largest producers in OPEC have signaled that they would extend the cuts in the production of oil through the end of 2018 to complete the job of rebalancing the oversupplied world market.

Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq the three top producers of crude in OPEC, all have said they wanted to add nine more months of supply cuts beyond the current expiration in March of 2018 of their current ongoing deal, where 10 non-members, which includes Russia, will take part.

Even following the extension, the oil producing cartel will review it at its next regularly scheduled meeting next June, said Khalid Al-Falih the Minster of Energy and Industry in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Falih said his preference was to add another nine months to the agreement taking through the end of 2018 and in June meet again to look at its progression.

Russia, the largest non-member producer to join the deal, agrees that the cuts should be in place until the end of next year.

One year after the oil cartel and allies came together in a bid to take back control of the worldwide oil market from the shale producers in the U.S., there exists consensus the job is not yet completed.

The details of the final agreement reached on Thursday in Vienna will matter to stock traders who are waiting to scour the communique in an effort to gauge the strength of the continued commitment by the group.

Even though the extension through the end of 2018 is certain, the oil cartel is planning to hold its regular June meeting, giving the group flexibility to change policy half way through the extension.

Some investors in oil are concerned with the possible review, while others believe it is the regular course of two annual OPEC meetings.

Falih added that it was too premature to discuss exit strategy because OPEC is relying on the demand of oil during the 2018 third quarter to eliminate the surplus in inventory that has weighed the market down for over three years.

However, Falih did say the kingdom would be open to talking about how OPEC and 10 non-members could wind the cuts down gradually once the goals have been achieved.

Brent crude, the worldwide benchmark, traded higher by 0.9% in London Thursday morning at $63.65 per barrel. Prices have increase since the beginning of September to their highest mark in over two years due to speculation the production cuts would be extended by OPEC.

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