VIENNA – OPEC agreed on Thursday to a further cut in oil production of 1.5 million barrels per day (mbd) due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak if Russia consents.
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told reporters as he left the ministerial meeting in Vienna that the group supports a 1.5 million cut.
Ministers of the 13 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will propose the figure in a meeting on Friday with their counterparts from 10 independent allied producers, including Russia.
In December, the group of 23 nations known by OPEC+ established a cut of 1.7 mbd for the first quarter of the year, which was later extended to the first half of the year.
Saudi Arabia also voluntarily withdrew another 400,000 barrels per day in a bid to stabilize the market.
But the fragile recovery of the market was reversed in January by the coronavirus outbreak, which has slowed the world economy and oil demand.
Convincing Russia to join the agreement could be difficult, as the country’s energy minister Alexander Novak said Wednesday during negotiations in Vienna that he would not support additional cuts.
He is due to meet with OPEC again on Friday, with the group expecting Moscow to take part in the cut.
OPEC ministers agreed to the position unusually quickly in response to falling demand, especially from China which is the world’s leading importer of crude oil.
The decision was in line with a recommendation by an OPEC technical committee, which proposed reducing production by between 1.2 and 1.5 mbd, according to various anonymous sources.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and de facto leader of OPEC, has been pressuring for weeks in favor of OPEC+ withdrawing at least another million barrels per day to cut the total pumping of 2.1 mbd in the face of a sharp drop in consumption.
But the plans were rejected by Russia and Kazakhstan, the largest producers among the independent allies, who favored keeping the current cuts unchanged and extending them until the end of 2020.
Unlike Riyadh, which needs a value of around $70 per barrel, Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently said his country could manage with the current price, around $52.
The OPEC conference took place with a minimum number of delegates, under instructions from Vienna health authorities.
Attendees had to undergo a temperature check before joining the event with the press banned from entering the headquarters of the organization.