OPEC, partners face stiff test to agree oil cut deal

OPEC President and Energy Minister of the United Arab Emirates Suhail al-Mazrouei (4th R) opens the 175th OPEC Conference of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria on December 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018
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OPEC, partners face stiff test to agree oil cut deal

  • Amid sharp differences over which way to go, the oil market continued under pressure
  • A glut on the market has led to oil prices falling by more than 30 percent

VIENNA: OPEC ministers resumed talks on Friday before further discussions with 10 key partner countries, including Russia, later in the day to thrash out an agreement on production cuts.
Amid sharp differences over which way to go, the oil market continued under pressure.
In early trade Friday, the price of Brent, the European benchmark, was again under the symbolic $60 mark after a slump Thursday when the cartel failed to reach an expected accord on cuts to stem price falls.
“No, I am not confident” about the chances of a deal, Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih told reporters after a long day of negotiations at OPEC headquarters in Vienna.
However, OPEC and non-OPEC members — who combined account for around half of global output — agree on one thing: a glut on the market has led to oil prices falling by more than 30 percent in the space of two months.


Libya’s National Oil against paying ‘ransom’ to reopen El Sharara field

Updated 14 December 2018
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Libya’s National Oil against paying ‘ransom’ to reopen El Sharara field

  • Ransom payment would set dangerous precedent
  • NOC declared force majeure on exports on Monday

BENGHAZI: Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corp. (NOC) said it was against paying a ransom to an armed group that has halted crude production at the country’s largest oilfield.
“Any attempt to pay a ransom to the armed militia which shut down El Sharara (oilfield) would set a dangerous precedent that would threaten the recovery of the Libyan economy,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement on the company’s website.
NOC on Monday declared force majeure on exports from the 315,000-barrels-per-day oilfield after it was seized at the weekend by a local militia group.
The nearby El-Feel oilfield, which uses the same power supply as El Sharara, was still producing normally, a spokesman for NOC said, without giving an output figure. The field usually pumps around 70,000 bpd.
Since 2013 Libya has faced a wave of blockages of oilfields and export terminals by armed groups and civilians trying to press the country’s weak state into concessions.
Officials have tended to end such action by paying off protesters who demand to be added to the public payroll.
At El Sharara, in southern Libya, a mix of state-paid guards, civilians and tribesmen have occupied the field, camping there since Saturday, protesters and oil workers said. The protesters work in shifts, with some going home at night.
NOC has evacuated some staff by plane, engineers at the oilfield said. A number of sub-stations away from the main field have been vacated and equipment removed.
The occupiers are divided, with members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) indicating they would end the blockade in return for a quick cash payment, oil workers say. The PFG has demanded more men be added to the public payroll.
The tribesmen have asked for long-term development funds, which might take time.
Libya is run by two competing, weak governments. Armed groups, tribesmen and normal Libyans tend to vent their anger about high inflation and a lack of infrastructure on the NOC, which they see as a cash cow booking billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues annually.