OPEC+ resumes oil policy talks amid Saudi-UAE standoff


Posted at Jul 05 2021 08:16 PM

OPEC+ resumes oil policy talks amid Saudi-UAE standoff 1
The OPEC logo pictured ahead of an informal meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Algiers, Algeria, September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo

DUBAI - OPEC+ ministers will look to salvage their oil output talks on Monday after clashing last week when the United Arab Emirates balked at a proposed eight-month extension to output curbs.

Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman on Sunday called for "compromise and rationality" to secure a deal after two days of failed discussions last week.

They centre on raising output from August, partly to help cool oil prices trading at 2-1/2 year highs, with Brent around $76 on Monday.

Those prices are prompting concerns about inflation derailing a global recovery from the pandemic.

OPEC+ agreed record output cuts of almost 10 million barrels per day (bpd) last year as the pandemic hit which have been gradually relaxed and currently stand at about 5.8 million bpd.

The UAE, according to sources, on Friday went along with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members on a proposal to raise output in stages by about 2 million bpd from August to December but rejected extending remaining cuts to the end of 2022 from a current end date of April.

On Monday two OPEC+ sources said there had been no progress in resolving the matter ahead of a meeting scheduled to begin at 1300 GMT.

The UAE is upset about the baseline from which its production cuts are being calculated and wants it raised. Abu Dhabi has invested billions of dollars to increase its production capacity and says its baseline was set too low when OPEC+ originally forged their pact.

It has also argued that it was not alone in requesting a higher baseline as others such as Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Kazakhstan and Nigeria had requested and received new ones since the deal was first agreed last year.

Decisions in OPEC+, which groups from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with Russia and others, must be unanimous.

Potential outcomes, OPEC+ sources said, include raising output from August, or raising output from August and extending the remaining cuts with a new higher baseline figure for the UAE.

OPEC+ could also go ahead with the deal as is until April 2022 and discuss a new UAE baseline as part of a new deal, the sources said.

The dispute reflects a growing divergence between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The two nations had built a regional alliance, combining financial and military muscle to fight a conflict in Yemen and project power elsewhere. But the UAE has withdrawn from action in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia has sought to challenge the UAE's dominance as the region's business and tourism hub.

The UAE in August 2020 also agreed to normalise relations with Israel, while Saudi Arabia has no official diplomatic relations with Israel. 

(Reporting by OPEC team; writing by Rania El Gamal and Alex Lawler; editing by Edmund Blair and Jason Neely)