Trump asks OPEC not to cut production

OPEC President Suhail al Mazrouei speaks Friday at OPEC headquarters in Vienna. OPEC Russia and other producers have agreed to cut production ignoring pressure from President Trump

Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia's energy minister, says some members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have been complaining that Libya and Nigeria are overproducing.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier that OPEC needed Russian Federation to come on board with any cuts.

According to Reuters, five unnamed delegates said ahead of the meeting that the group's preferred level of supply cuts would effectively be conditional on Moscow's contribution.

His Iraqi counterpart, Thamir Ghadhban, said: "I am optimistic that the agreement will stabilize the market, will stop the slide in the price (of oil)".

"We don't need permission from anyone to cut", said Falih on Thursday.

This was the first drop in USA crude stocks since September, and it came as exports surged to a record 3.2 million barrels per day (bpd).

U.S. President Donald Trump continues to call on OPEC to keep oil prices low, because "The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!".

In a sign of easing tensions between the world's two biggest economies, Chinese oil trader Unipec plans to resume United States crude shipments to China by March after the Xi-Trump deal at the G20 meeting reduced the risk of tariffs being imposed on these imports, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Concern over an emerging supply glut has decimated oil prices - West Texas Intermediate, the USA benchmark, fell more than 2 percent to $51.56 per barrel on Thursday - but President Trump has pushed for cheaper oil, urging other countries to refrain from output cuts.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia produced a record 11.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in November, adding to the swelling glut. "Ideally, everyone should join equally". "But, because the change is gradual over time, I don't think it's going to cause a huge revolution, but you do have to think that OPEC is going to have to take that into account when they think about cutting".

Some energy analysts questioned whether a reduction of 1 million barrels per day is adequate to balance supply and demand in 2019, especially considering that key producers including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq have been increasing output.

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The uncertainty over possible production cuts caused oil prices to dip on Wednesday as investors wait on a decision.

But with Russian Federation heading into winter, "climate conditions" made it "much more hard (to cut output) than for other countries", he said. If Russia does agree a cut, it would take three to four months to fully implement it, he said.

Brent crude futures were down $2.07 on the day to $59.49 a barrel by 1532 GMT or 9:02 pm IST, having hit a session low of $58.36, while USA futures fell $1.38 to $51.51 a barrel.

OPEC ministers reacted to Trump's intervention by telling him not to interfere.

Unless there is a bullish clarification from the Saudi oil minister later today, prices are likely to remain under pressure.

One issue that might complicate relations between the United States and OPEC is the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi by people linked to the government in Riyadh.

"In the first place we are focusing on the industry's objective index", he said. Iran wants to be exempted from any cuts that are agreed.

"The oil cut will be between 1.0 and 1.3 million bpd".

Ideally, "the price would be better to stand at $60-70".

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de facto leader, has made clear that it won't shoulder the burden of trimming production alone.

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