OPEC to break bread with shale competitors for third year

[HOUSTON] OPEC officials are scheduled to meet for dinner with senior executives from North America's booming shale oil industry in Houston as the balance of power in global energy markets continues its swing to the US from the Middle East.

The dinner is due to take place Monday night, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said in an interview with Bloomberg News. It will be the third consecutive year that rival producers have gathered on the sidelines of the annual CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference. The event has become an informal communication channel between the cartel and fast-growing shale producers.

"We initiated a valuable dialogue with the US shale producers two years ago in the midst of the last cycle and we agreed to continue the dialogue because we broke barriers," Barkindo said. "It is essential we continue the conversation with US shale industry."

The dinner will follow an afternoon gathering behind closed doors of OPEC officials and some of the leading lights of American finance, including Michael O'Dwyer, a senior natural resources banker at Morgan Stanley.

Attendees will have plenty to talk about. Since the last meeting, OPEC has been forced to curtail production to prop up oil prices, which slumped in late 2018. The US has added 3 million barrels of oil to its daily production since the first dinner in 2017, equivalent to the current output of the United Arab Emirates.

Asked about the dinner, Hess Corp. Chief Executive Officer John Hess would only say, "I understand there is a dinner, so..." before walking away from reporters.


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