OPEC+ heads for deep supply cuts and a clash with the US

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OPEC+ looks set for deep cuts to its oil output targets when it meets on Wednesday, curbing supply in an already tight market despite pressure from the US and others to pump more.

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The potential OPEC+ cut could spur a recovery in oil prices that have dropped to about $90 from $120 three months ago due to fears of a global economic recession, rising US interest rates and a stronger dollar.

OPEC+, which includes Saudi Arabia and Russia, is working on target cuts in excess of 1 million barrels per day, sources told Reuters this week. One OPEC source said on Tuesday the cuts could amount to up to 2 million barrels per day.

The US is pushing OPEC not to proceed with the cuts arguing that fundamentals don’t support them, a source familiar with the matter said.

Sources said it remained unclear if cuts could include additional voluntary reductions by members such as Saudi Arabia or if cuts could include existing under-production by the group.

OPEC+ fell about 3.6 million bpd short of its output target in August.

Washington reaction

“Higher oil prices, if driven by sizeable production cuts, would likely irritate the Biden Administration ahead of US mid-term elections,” Citi analysts said in a note.

“There could be further political reactions from the US, including additional releases of strategic stocks along with some wildcards including further fostering of a NOPEC bill,” Citi said, referring to a US anti-trust bill against OPEC.

JP Morgan also said it expected Washington to put in place countermeasures by releasing more oil stocks.

Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC+ - which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia - have said they seek to prevent volatility rather than to target a particular oil price.

Benchmark Brent crude traded flat at below $92 per barrel on Wednesday after rising on Tuesday.

The West has accused Russia of weaponizing energy, creating a crisis in Europe that could trigger gas and power rationing this winter.

Moscow accuses the West of weaponizing the dollar and financial systems such as SWIFT in retaliation for Russia sending troops into Ukraine in February. The West accuses Moscow of invading Ukraine while Russia calls it a special military operation.

Part of the reason Washington wants lower oil prices is to deprive Moscow of oil revenue while Saudi Arabia has not condemned Moscow’s actions.

Relations have been strained between the Kingdom and the administration of Biden, who traveled to Riyadh this year but failed to secure any firm cooperation commitments on energy.

Read more:

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