Opec+ members are close to a decision to bring forward their next meeting by a few days, according to people familiar with the situation.
If confirmed, the move would give the cartel and its allies more room for maneuver to change the current production limits. The existing deal — struck in April as demand collapsed amid the pandemic — calls for curbs to ease from July. But that’s up for discussion at the next meeting.
Opec members usually decide their plans for shipping oil to customers for July in the first week of June, so meeting earlier gives them time to change tack.
Algerian Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab, who holds the rotating presidency, proposed moving the meeting to June 4, instead of June 9-10. A final decision was expected on Sunday, according to two delegates.
The 23-nation Opec+ coalition led by Saudi Arabia and Russia is undertaking record oil-production cuts to offset the loss in demand from the coronavirus crisis. At the next meeting they will decide whether to maintain the current cutback or ease it slightly as originally planned.
Moving the gathering — which is set to happen by videoconference — would also mean shifting committee meetings that normally take place before a ministerial conference to later in the month.
Opec currently has an Economic Commission Board meeting scheduled for June 2-3, and a Joint Technical Committee to assess implementation of the current supply cuts on June 5.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners have committed to curb output by 9.7 million barrels a day, or about 10% of global supply. Group leader Saudi Arabia and other exporters in the Persian Gulf are adding extra voluntary cutbacks of just over 1 million barrels a day in June.
The current agreement allows the coalition to relax the reductions to about 8 million barrels a day. Yet with oil prices still near $35 a barrel — far below the levels most Opec+ nations need to cover government spending — the group could decide to keep going with the full cutback, to try to prop up the market