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OPEC Makes Sharp Oil Output Cut

OPEC Makes Sharp Oil Output Cut

Friday, 18 January, 2019 - 06:45
FILE PHOTO: A worker walks at Rumaila oil field in Basra, Iraq, November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani/File Photo
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
OPEC said on Thursday it had cut oil output sharply in December before a new accord to limit supply took effect, suggesting producers have made a strong start to averting a glut in 2019 as a slowing economy curbs demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said in a monthly report its oil output fell by 751,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December to 31.58 million bpd, the biggest month-on-month drop in almost two years.

OPEC’s announcement was made as Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted as saying on Thursday that Moscow is unable to reduce oil output sharply but will try to do so more quickly.

Earlier this week, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Russia was cutting its oil production more slowly than expected.

Worried by a drop in oil prices and rising supplies, OPEC and its allies including Russia agreed in December to return to production cuts in 2019. They pledged to lower output by 1.2 million bpd, of which OPEC's share is 800,000 bpd.

The reduction in December means that should OPEC fully implement the new Jan. 1 cut, it will avoid a surplus that could weaken prices.

"While the economic risk remains skewed to the downside, the likelihood of a moderation in monetary tightening is expected to slow the decelerating economic growth trend in 2019," OPEC said.

"This has recently been reflected in global financial markets. The positive effect on market sentiment was also witnessed in the oil market," it said.

OPEC said in the report that 2019 demand for its crude would decline to 30.83 million bpd, a drop of 910,000 bpd from 2018, as rivals pump more and the slowing economy curbs demand.

Delivering the 800,000 bpd cut from December's level should mean the group would be pumping slightly less than the expected demand for its crude this year and so avoid a surplus.

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