OPEC+ close to deal on next phase of oil cuts

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Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister, held phone discussions with his counterpart in Iraq. (File/AFP)
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OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo delivers his speech during the presentation of the World Oil Outlook in Vienna, Austria November 5, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Updated 14 July 2020

OPEC+ close to deal on next phase of oil cuts

  • Saudi energy minister stresses importance of alliance members meeting production targets as experts point to markets rebalancing

DUBAI: OPEC+, the oil alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, is close to a deal that will take it to the next stage of the historic agreement signed in April to limit global crude production.

Ministers from the 23 countries of the alliance will meet via webinar on Wednesday to seal the deal, but behind the scenes officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have been in talks to finalize details of the agreement to add roughly 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil to current levels.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister, held phone discussions with his counterpart in Iraq, Ihsan Ismail, where they affirmed their support for the new phase of the OPEC+ deal, which they agreed would “enhance oil market stability and help accelerate the rebalancing of global oil markets.”

In a call with Timipre Sylva, the Nigerian minister for petroleum resources, Prince Abdul Aziz emphasized the importance for all OPEC+ participants to meet production targets.

Russia has already signaled its desire to implement phase two of the OPEC+ agreement.

Experts believe that global oil markets had made big progress toward rebalancing since the mayhem of March and April, when oil prices collapsed.

Demand has increased as economies around the world come out of lockdown.

FASTFACT

Russia has already signaled its desire to implement phase two of the OPEC+ agreement.

OPEC+ efforts to reduce supply have been effective, and members have been meeting ambitious targets for compliance with the output levels.

The vast majority of producers have hit targets of 100 percent compliance. Some — including Saudi Arabia as the leading OPEC producer — have exceeded their targets.

The next OPEC+ schedule, which will start on Aug. 1, will see cuts in production tapered to 7.7 million bpd from the current level of 9.6 million bpd agreed in April.

OPEC+ policymakers have been encouraged by pledges from some of the countries that had missed earlier targets — such as Nigeria and Iraq — that they would make up those shortfalls by compensatory cuts in production in the summer months. Nigeria has promised 100 percent compliance.

Oil producers in the Middle East traditionally use more fuel oil domestically during the hot summer months, and that will be accentuated this year as people who would have travelled for vacation, stay at home because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic-related travel restrictions.

The OPEC+ agreement, as well as natural declines in other oil-producing countries because of falling demand and crude prices, is credited with rebalancing the global market.

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said: “If we had not acted in such a decisive way, the market would have been in danger of a near-total collapse.”

Oil prices have more than doubled since the lows of April. Brent crude traded at $43.25 per barrel yesterday.


Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

Updated 14 August 2020

Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

  • Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store
  • Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games

NEW YORK: Apple and Google dropped the popular game Fortnite from their app stores after the game’s developer introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms.
Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games, which has long been a sore spot with developers.
Fortnite is free, but users can pay for in game accoutrements like weapons and skins. Its developer, Epic Games, said in a blog post Thursday that it was introducing Epic Direct payments, a direct payment plan for Apple’s iOS and Google Play. Epic said the system is the same payment system it already uses to process payments on PC and Mac computers and Android phones.
Apple and Google said the service violates their guidelines.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services,” Apple said in statement.
Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store. Android users can download the app from other app stores, although that’s generally not an option for iPhone users.
Epic Games did not immediately return a request for comment. Epic’s Fortnite Twitter account said the company would debut a new short film called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” a seeming parody of Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. It has also filed a complaint against Apple in the US District Court in Northern California for dropping Fortnite.