Saudi Arabia denies OPEC+ is discussing oil output increase

RIYADH (AFP): Saudi Arabia on Monday denied a report that oil producers were discussing a production increase for their next meeting, saying a cut approved last month would stay in place until the end of 2023.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Monday that Saudi Arabia, which co-leads the OPEC+ cartel along with Russia, and other members were considering an “increase of up to 500,000 barrels a day”.

But the official Saudi Press Agency said on Monday night that energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman “categorically denies” the report.

“It is well known, and no secret, that OPEC+ does not discuss any decisions ahead of its meetings,” SPA quoted Prince Abdulaziz as saying.

The next OPEC+ meeting is scheduled for December 4.

An increase in production would partially reverse the cut of two million barrels per day announced by the bloc in October.

That move heightened tensions between Riyadh and Washington, its longtime ally, which derided it as akin to “aligning with Russia” in the Ukraine war.

More oil output would also come when prices are already falling.

World oil prices plunged more than five percent on Monday, reaching the lowest levels since January, on forecasts of a hit to Chinese demand.

Saudi officials have vigorously defended the recent production cut in the face of criticism from Washington, saying it was driven purely by market conditions and could change as the market changed.

Prince Abdulaziz reiterated that position on Monday.

“The current cut of 2 million barrels per day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023 and if there is a need to take further measures by reducing production to balance supply and demand, we always remain ready to intervene,” he said.