Saudi Arabia cuts oil production by 1m barrels to back higher prices

Photo: EPA Abdulaziz bin Salman

Saudi Arabia has officially declared plans to reduce pumping of crude oil by some one million barrels per day to support the level of international prices, AP reported. Thus Saudi companies will take extra burden amid on-going plans to boost OPEC output by 500,000.

The decision came after a meeting between countries that are part of the OPEC oil cartel and allies like Russia that have coordinated their production levels in recent years in an effort to sway the market. The pandemic has sowed uncertainty about when an economic recovery might arrive and boost sagging demand for energy.

Leading OPEC member Saudi Arabia urged caution, saying demand for oil remains fragile even as the vaccination rollout raises hopes for an eventual return to more normal behavior. Its energy minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman, told a news conference that his country would unilaterally cut its output to help support prices. “We hope this gesture of good will not be in vain,” he said. OPEC countries and allies like Russia had decided in December to gingerly increase daily production by 500,000 barrels at the start of the new year and then to reassess the oil market every month. Their goal is to eventually increase production by 2 million barrels a day. That would partially withdraw the 7.7 million barrels a day in production cuts agreed last year. OPEC faces conflicting pressures after last year’s plunge in oil prices as the pandemic held back energy use and travel. Last year’s output cuts kept prices from collapsing even more than they would have. Raising production now as recovery beckons in the distance would increase revenues for producing countries that have seen their budgets hard hit by lower prices. But pumping too much too soon could undermine the modest rebound in energy prices.

 

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