By Alex Lawler and Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, April 12 (Reuters) - OPEC and its oil producer allies are poised to extend their supply-cutting pact into 2019 even as a global glut of crude is set to evaporate by September, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said on Thursday.
In an interview with Reuters in New Delhi, Barkindo said the initial draft of a longer-term alliance agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers would be discussed at their June meeting in Vienna.
“There is growing confidence that the declaration of cooperation will be extended beyond 2018,” Barkindo told Reuters.
“Russia will continue to play a leading role.”
OPEC, Russia and several other non-OPEC producers began to cut supply in January 2017 in an effort to lift oil prices. The pact runs until the end of this year, and the June meeting will see the participants decide their next course of action.
OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, has said it would like the pact - under which output is being reduced by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) - to be extended into 2019.
The 14-member, Vienna-based OPEC said its collective output, according to secondary sources, fell by 201,000 bpd to 31.96 million bpd in March from February, driven by declines in Angola, Algeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Libya.
The figure is below the 32.6 million bpd that OPEC sees as demand for its crude for the whole of 2018.
“We have achieved an over 150 percent conformity level,” he said, referring to OPEC’s commitments under the supply-cutting pact.
“We have seen an accelerated shrinkage of stocks in storage from unparalleled highs of about 400 million barrels to about 43 million above the five-year average,” Barkindo said.
Lower production from OPEC has helped offset booming U.S. shale oil output and with global demand rising by more than 1.5 percent this year, consumers are having to drain stocks.
Barkindo said he expected the global oil market to rebalance in the second to third quarters of 2018, earlier than a previous forecast of the year-end.
OPEC said on Thursday that healthy economic growth, strong car sales and U.S. product consumption should help boost the global market for oil products in coming months. (Reporting by Nidhi Verma and Alex Lawler; Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Dale Hudson)