New Year OPEC+ meeting to decide production levels

LONDON (AFP) – Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) group of oil producers and their partners will meet via videoconference tomorrow to decide on production levels for February, hoping to turn the corner on a difficult year.

The OPEC+ ministerial meeting comes after oil consumption tanked in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Despite a pick up in prices towards the end of last year, the market levels for black gold remain uncertain.

After their last summit, from November 30-December 3, 2020 the OPEC+ members agreed to increase production by half a million barrels per day in January.

Also at that meeting the 13 members of the OPEC cartel, led by Saudi Arabia, and their six allies, led by Russia, agreed to meet at the beginning of each month to decide on any adjustments to production volumes for the following month.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are respectively the second and third biggest oil producers in the world after the United States (US).

The decision illustrates OPEC’s desire to maintain a strong influence on the oil market and the gravity of the situation for crude producers last year.

Before the pandemic, OPEC members were content with two summits per year at the organisation’s headquarters in Vienna.

“Finally, we saw a strong demonstration of OPEC+ will and capability to manage the market, laying the groundwork for Brent’s recovery to over USD50 per barrel despite remaining demand uncertainty in the market,” JBC Energy analysts said in a statement.

The two contracts of reference, North Sea Brent Crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude both ended the week around the USD50 per barrel level, far lower than the prices seen at the start of 2020 but well up on the lows seen last year.