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Opec said to be split on need for long-term oil-price forecasts

After almost a year of painfully low oil prices, Opec members are beginning to believe they are winning against upstart US shale producers in a short-term market share contest.

[KUWAIT] Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are at odds with Iran and other Opec members over whether the organization should include oil-price forecasts in its long-term strategy report, according to three of the group's delegates.

The Gulf kingdom, which has led the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in a battle against rival producers, is seeking to exclude price assumptions from the report, according to the delegates, who asked not to be identified because the document isn't public. The disagreement reflects internal divisions over whether Opec policy should focus on prices or the stability of the oil market, one of the delegates said.

Oil prices plunged to a six-year low last month as Opec kept its taps open in an effort to pressure competitors such as US shale drillers to cut production. A draft of the report predicted that low oil prices will deepen the challenges Opec's rivals face in growing their supply this decade.

Opec's strategy review is due for completion later this year. The previous edition produced in 2010 estimated crude would trade in a range of $70 to $86 a barrel through to 2020, then climb to $106 by 2030.

"I haven't received the formal report for the position of Saudi Arabia," Iran Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said when asked about the disagreement in an interview in Tehran Tuesday. While it may take some months for members to exchange views, they are mature enough to resolve differences and "after ups and downs Opec will reach an agreement for managing the market."

The US, Canada, Brazil and Russia - the biggest sources of supplies outside Opec - face an array of technological and regulatory obstacles that will be compounded by the drop in crude prices, according to a preliminary draft of the long-term strategy report obtained by Bloomberg News. Some smaller US shale drillers could be forced "out of business," Brazil will face "extreme technological challenges," and Russia's best hope may be to prevent output declining, it said.