Speaking in an interview in Washington, DC, the Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC will need to continue cooperating with Russia and other non-OPEC oil producers on supply curbs into 2019 if global inventories are going to return to preferred levels.
The current deal between OPEC and its non-member partners, most notably Russia, took some 1.8 million bpd (barrels per day) off the market. It was most recently extended until the end of this year with the possibility of relaxing the production curbs earlier if market conditions permit.
Speaking to Reuters in Washington, Falih said:
“We know for sure that we still have some time to go before we bring inventories down to the level we consider normal and we will identify that by mid-year when we meet in Vienna. And then we will hopefully by year-end identify the mechanism by which we will work in 2019.”
This would appear to confirm that the curbs would remain in place at least throughout this year, although it opens the door for a fresh framework next year.
Falih also stated that he did not regard US shale production to be a threat, even though shale operators like ExxonMobil, the maker of lubricants for Mobil UK stockists, have been steadily increasing production. He added that global supplies would have been tight without US shale oil.
Falih also said the country was ready to proceed with its planned share listing of state-owned Saudi Aramco but stressed that the timing needed to be right.