Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih is meeting with Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi in Baghdad on Monday as OPEC’s de facto leader is trying to persuade fellow cartel members—especially no.2 Iraq that has failed to comply with the cuts so far—to extend the production deal for another nine months.
Ahead of OPEC’s meeting in Vienna on Thursday, al-Falih is due in Baghdad on Monday in the first visit by a senior Saudi energy official to Iraq in almost three decades.
“The two ministers will discuss boosting bilateral relations and the upcoming OPEC decision to help boost global prices and reduce the glut in the market,” Asim Jihad, spokesman for Iraq’s oil ministry, told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia and Russia, which leads the non-OPEC group of nations part of the production cut deal, are proposing a nine-month extension to March 2018.
Last week, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Baghdad would support an extension of the cuts, but did not provide specifics on exactly how long an extension it would support.
Iraq has so far been the OPEC member furthest off target in complying with the output cuts, producing in each of the months between January and April more than it had pledged under the production cut deal, OPEC’s data show. At the time of the initial deal, Iraq also disputed OPEC’s secondary sources estimates and argued that it deserved exemption because its funds are depleting in the fight against ISIS. Related: Iraq Agrees With Deal Extension, But Boosts Oil Exports To Record Levels
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has cut more than required since the start of the deal, compensating for non-complying fellow OPEC members.
According to RBC Capital Market’s Helima Croft, Iraq could derail the nine-month extension plan.
“Getting Iraq on board is going to be interesting….I think Iraq in the end will get on board but they might make it difficult along the way,” Croft told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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