OPEC and its oil-producing allies have agreed to continue with their current output plan, deciding against loosening the taps in the face of multiyear highs in crude prices and U.S. pressure to help cool the market.
The group, known as OPEC+, will rollover its August program to gradually increase oil production by 400,000 barrels per day each month.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told a news conference Thursday: “The decision was made previously to increase production by 400,000 (barrels per day) every month, and I underscore every month, until the end of 2022. Today the decision was reiterated to maintain current parameters which were decided on earlier.”
International oil benchmark Brent crude was trading at US$81.68 per barrel at 1:20 p.m. ET on Thursday, down 34 cents from the previous day.
Asked why the group was not boosting its production levels despite complaints and requests from oil consumers like the U.S., India and Japan, Novak replied that OPEC and its allies were maintaining market balance and remaining wary of potential changes in demand.
“From August until now, we have added 2 million barrels of additional production to the market,” Novak said. “So as planned, we are giving the market more and more volume, as it is recovering, at the same time we also see there is a seasonal drop in demand in the fourth and first quarters of the year, and also there are some signs such as a decrease in oil product demand in the EU in October, which we have observed.”
The minister continued that this “basically underscores the fact that global oil demand is still under pressure from the delta COVID variant, and due to the preservation of various limitations and Covid measures in some countries.”
Oil prices have recently hit their highest levels since 2014, and crude-importing countries are feeling the pain.
President Joe Biden squarely blamed the reluctance of OPEC+ to pump more oil for the sharp rise in energy prices in the U.S. and around the world.
“The idea that Russia and Saudi Arabia and other major producers are not going to pump more oil so people can have gasoline to get to and from work, for example, is not right,” Biden said Sunday at the G-20 meeting in Rome.
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