Opec+ urges vigilance as it sounds caution over uncertain markets

Vaccine roll out is positive for global economy and oil demand, the group said at its latest meeting

FILE PHOTO: The OPEC logo pictured ahead of an informal meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Algiers, Algeria, September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo
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Opec+ urged oil producers within its group to remain 'vigilant and flexible' to uncertain market conditions as it renewed commitments to undertake corrections.

The group, which convened online on Wednesday for a joint ministerial monitoring committee (JMMC), reported an overall compliance of 101 per cent among its members.

"While economic prospects and oil demand would remain uncertain in the coming months, the gradual rollout of vaccines around the world is a positive factor for the rest of the year, boosting the global economy and oil demand," the group said in a communique.

The group will maintain its current level of curbs set at 7.2 million barrels per day until the end of March, which has been in place since the beginning of the year. Opec+ also received commitments from Kazakhstan and Iraq to make up for earlier shortfalls.

Saudi Arabia, the biggest exporter of crude has committed to a voluntary pledge of 1m bpd to compensate for seasonal increased production from Russia and Kazakhstan.

The group came together to enforce historic market curbs of 9.7m bpd between May and July last year as oil demand crumbled following the halt of air travel and mass lockdowns around the world due to Covid-19. It has since tapered cuts in line with a recovery in demand in Asia and expected future growth.

Oil prices rallied ahead of the meeting, with US crude futures at a one-year high, trading above $55 per barrel.

Brent, the international crude benchmark, was up 0.68 per cent at $58.86 per barrel at 10.41am UAE time, while West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, was up 0.43 per cent at $56.12 per barrel.

A steep drawdown of oil stocks of the 37 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the fifth consecutive month in December, also helped rebalance markets, Opec said.

Oil stocks of around 290 million barrels were drained from the markets in the second half of last year. Declines in OECD stock levels picked up pace, from 0.57m bpd in the third quarter to 2.58m bpd in the final three months of the year, according to UBS.

Opec+ will convene for another JMMC on March 3, followed by a ministerial meeting on March 4 to assess its plans for the remainder of the year.