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Although it is now a foregone conclusion that OPEC will extend the production cuts for at least some period, the cartel members are still debating how long the extension would be, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Wednesday, suggesting that not all oil producers are on board with the Saudi-Russian proposal for a nine-month extension a day before the OPEC meeting on Thursday.
“All agree...to maintain OPEC’s production ceiling, [but] the term is not clear,” Iran’s ISNA news agency quoted the minister as saying on the sidelines of an Iranian cabinet meeting in Tehran.
“Maybe three months, six or nine months,” Zanganeh said.
According to ISNA, Zanganeh said that Iran—which was allowed to slightly raise output while other members had to cut—would not cut its own oil production.
The comments by the Iranian minister come after Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih was quoted as saying that he did not expect any opposition within OPEC to a nine-month extension, following a visit to Iraq, where OPEC’s no.1 and no.2 were said to have agreed on the need of a nine-month extension.
On Tuesday, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam al-Marzouq said that OPEC and non-OPEC signatories to the deal would discuss whether the production cut deal should be extended by six or nine months, because there isn’t a unanimous unconditional support for a nine-month extension.
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“We have agreed on the six months. Some of the countries have agreed to six months subject to a revision in November for an additional three months,” according to al-Marzouq.
OPEC is not ruling out any option for discussion at the upcoming meeting on Thursday, including considering deeper cuts, al-Marzouq said on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, he was of the same opinion, telling reporters that “all options are still open”, including steeper cuts.
Judging from the comments of OPEC ministers, the cartel’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia expects a smooth meeting without much opposition to a 9-month extension, while other cartel members may need convincing to sign up to cutting for another nine months.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.