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Iran, Saudi oil ministers meet to avert showdown

23 June 2018

Asian shares hit a six-month low on Friday as tariffs and the US-China trade battle start taking their toll.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Wednesday that an OPEC output increase could total around 460,000 bpd.

Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, says its output is likely to fall in the second half of this year due to new USA sanctions.

That means the country has little to gain from a deal to raise OPEC output, unlike top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

The goal of the 2016 agreement between OPEC and other major producers, including Russian Federation, was to slash output in order to support prices and rid markets of excess supply.

Analysts expect OPEC to announce an increase in production of 500,000 to 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), which would help ease tightness in the oil market but would not be enough to create a glut.

Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at $74.04 per barrel at 0308 GMT, up 99 cents, or 1.4 percent, from their last close.

The cartel's largest producer, Saudi Arabia, is seen to be open to higher production but Iran has been hesitant.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said an OPEC committee agreed "to recommend releasing the equivalent of 1 million barrels or thereabout to the market". "Stay tuned." A decision to increase output could be taken with Iran refusing to sign up, as has happened before in Opec.

Once known for rampant cheating on agreed oil output targets, Opec has been over-delivering on a pact in place since January 2017, cutting around one and a half times the promised amount.

"OPEC is an independent organization, not an organization to receive instruction from President Trump", Zanganeh said on Tuesday.

Oil prices have spiked by as much as 20% this year, in part because OPEC has produced even less than was foreseen under the 2016 agreement, which was supposed to reduce supply by 1.8 million barrels per day.

Falih said the oil market had now rebalanced and his aim was to prevent a shortage of crude in future that could squeeze the market.

By avoiding setting individual country targets, the deal appears to give Saudi Arabia the leeway to produce more than its official OPEC target and fill the gap left by those like Venezuela who can not pump enough to meet their official allocation.

Iran's oil minister walked out of a key meeting with OPEC peers on Thursday, as a rift deepened with regional rival Saudi over its push to ramp up the cartel's oil output.

Meanwhile, the oil industry will watch how USA shale firms respond to the OPEC decision Friday.

Hence, oil might rise if OPEC meets market expectation, or the output hike is less than expected.

Reuters, quoting unnamed OPEC sources, said Iran had demanded that U.S. sanctions be mentioned in the group's post-meeting communiqué.

Fawibe said: "If OPEC increases its production by 1.5million barrels per day, there will be a slump in the price, especially now that we are going to winter."He urged the federal government to proactively address the situation in the oil-producing region to enable the country to boost production, which stood around 2.25 million b/d earlier this year".

Iran, Saudi oil ministers meet to avert showdown