June 16, 2019 / 5:42 AM / a month ago

Saudi Energy Minister hopes OPEC agrees to extend production cut 'early July'

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, is seen after the OPEC 14th Meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 19, 2019. REUTERS/Waleed Ali

KARUIZAWA, Japan (Reuters) - Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Sunday that OPEC would probably meet in the first week in July in Vienna and that he hoped it would reach consensus on extending its agreement to cut oil output.

Falih said earlier this month that OPEC was close to agreeing to extend the agreement beyond June, although more talks were still needed with non-OPEC countries that were part of the production deal.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, have a deal to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from Jan. 1. The pact ends this month and the group meets in coming weeks to decide their next move.

“We are hoping that we will reach consensus to extend our agreement when we meet in two-weeks-time in Vienna,” Falih told reporters on the sideline of a G20 energy and environment ministerial meeting in Karuizawa, northwest of Tokyo.

Asked when the meeting will be held, he said: “Probably the first week of July”.

It was not completely clear whether the agreement would also include OPEC+.

OPEC was set to meet on June 25, followed by talks with its allies led by Russia on June 26. But Russia suggested a date change to July 3 to 4, according to sources within the group.

Falih said that oil demand usually picks up in the second half the year, with refineries coming back from maintenance and with seasonal demand boost, and that the new agreement would help rebalance the market.

“I’m fairly confident that fundamentals are going in a right direction,” he said.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Michael Perry

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