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OPEC+ Panel Cancels Next Week’s Meeting

The March 18 meeting of the OPEC+ panel monitoring the oil market and producers’ compliance with quotas has been canceled, a source in one delegation told Russia’s news agency TASS on Thursday, as Saudi Arabia and its OPEC allies face off with Russia in an escalating oil price war after the OPEC+ group failed to agree on joint actions last Friday.

The meeting of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of OPEC and non-OPEC countries, scheduled for next week, is unlikely to take place, three sources familiar with the plans told Reuters, with one source saying that the meeting would be postponed.  

OPEC’s top producer and de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, has signaled it would not attend the panel meeting, regardless of its format, one of the sources told Reuters.

Earlier today, reports suggested that the meeting would go ahead, but in a teleconference format because of the coronavirus outbreak which is spreading in Europe, Bloomberg quoted Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister Nurlan Nogaev as saying on Thursday.

Russia’s energy ministry believes that under the circumstances a teleconference is the most adequate format for holding the meeting, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday, but didn’t confirm the date of March 18, saying that “we need to ascertain if we have received an official invitation.”

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On Wednesday, Novak said that Russia would send representatives to the meeting of the OPEC+ panel, reiterating Moscow’s readiness to continue cooperation with OPEC in some form after the collapse of the OPEC+ production cut deal and oil prices. 

Novak’s comments came a day after he said that “the doors aren’t closed” to future cooperation between Russia and OPEC, despite the breakup of the OPEC+ production cut agreement.

OPEC+ has meetings scheduled for May or June to assess the situation on the market, the Russian minister said, but his Saudi counterpart seemed to dismiss Russia’s comments that cooperation should continue.   

“I fail to see the wisdom for holding meetings in May-June that would only demonstrate our failure in attending to what we should have done in a crisis like this and taking the necessary measures,” Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told Reuters on Tuesday.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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