* Deeper OPEC, non-OPEC cuts seen unlikely
* Market, delegates see 9-month extension as base-case
* OPEC, non-OPEC to send message their cooperation will last
* Oil producers seek to bring down record-high inventories
By Rania El Gamal, Ernest Scheyder and Alex Lawler
VIENNA, May 25 OPEC and non-member oil producers
are gearing up to extend output cuts on Thursday, possibly by as
long as 12 months, to help clear a global stocks overhang and
prop up crude prices.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is to
discuss in Vienna whether to prolong an accord reached in
December in which it and 11 non-members agreed to cut oil output
by about 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017.
Most OPEC ministers, delegates and the market see a
nine-month extension - instead of the initially suggested six
months - as the base-case scenario but some countries including
Russia have suggested an unusually long duration of 12 months.
"I think nine months is most likely," one OPEC delegate
said. Four other delegates agreed it was the most probable
OPEC's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, and top non-OPEC
producer Russia have said cuts need to be extended to speed up
market rebalancing and prevent oil prices from sliding back
below $50 per barrel.
OPEC sources have said the Thursday meeting will also
highlight the need for long-term cooperation with non-OPEC
The group could also send a message to the market that it
will seek to curtail its oil exports, which have not declined as
steeply as its production.
However, a decision on deeper output cuts is unlikely on
Thursday, sources have said. By 0725 GMT, Brent crude
was trading up almost 1 percent, above $54.40 a barrel.
OPEC's cuts have helped push oil back above $50 a barrel
this year, giving a fiscal boost to producers, many of which
rely heavily on energy revenues and have had to burn through
foreign-currency reserves to plug holes in their budgets.
Oil's earlier price decline, which started in 2014, forced
Russia and Saudi Arabia to tighten their belts and led to unrest
in some producing countries including Venezuela and Nigeria.
"Russia has an upcoming election and Saudis have the Aramco
share listing next year so they will indeed do whatever it takes
to support oil prices," said Gary Ross, head of global oil at
PIRA Energy, a unit of S&P Global Platts.
The price rise this year has spurred growth in the U.S.
shale industry, which is not participating in the output deal,
thus slowing the market's rebalancing with global stocks still
near record highs.
OPEC has a self-imposed goal of bringing stocks down from a
record high of 3 billion barrels to their five-year average of
Algerian Energy Minister Noureddine Boutarfa told Reuters on
Wednesday he believed that inventories should normalise by the
end of 2017.
(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar, Vladimir Soldatkin and
Shadia Nasralla; Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Dale