Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih paid a rare visit to Iraq on Monday in the latest effort by the top oil producer to convince its fellow OPEC member to extend supply cuts for a further nine months to ease the global glut and prop up prices.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet in Vienna on Thursday to consider whether to extend curbs agreed in December last year between OPEC and 11 non-member countries, including Russia. The existing cuts run until June.
Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia have been pushing to extend the cuts by nine months until March 2018. Iraq, OPEC’s second largest and fastest growing oil producer, has so far voiced support only for a six-month extension.
It is the first time in nearly three decades that a senior Saudi energy official has visited Baghdad.
“The two ministers will discuss boosting bilateral relations and the upcoming OPEC decision to help boost global prices and reduce the glut in the market,” Iraqi oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad told Reuters.
The two ministers were expected to hold a news conference later on Monday after the talks.
OPEC wants to reduce global oil inventories to their five-year average but so far has struggled to do so. Stockpiles are hovering near record highs, partly because of rising production in the United States, which is not part of the
“I believe we have a growing consensus (on the duration of cut extension),” OPEC's Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo told reporters in Vienna.
Iraq and Iran were the main stumbling blocks for OPEC in reaching its last output-cutting decision in December.
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