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Oil advances near US$43 after Opec+ extends production cuts

Saudi Arabia makes biggest hikes to price of its crude in at least two decades, hitting July exports to Asia

Opec+ agreed to cut output by 9.6 million barrels a day in July, 100,000 barrels a day less than this month as Mexico will end its constraints.


OIL rose to trade near US$43 a barrel in London after Opec and its allies agreed to extend historic output curbs by an extra month, promising stricter compliance to ensure members don't pump more than they pledged.

Brent futures added as much as 2.6 per cent after posting a sixth weekly increase on Friday, the longest run of gains since May 2018. The extension is a victory for Saudi Arabia and Russia, which were deadlocked in a brutal price war just two months ago. The de-facto leaders of Opec+ showed their commitment to shore up oil markets globally over the weekend, and even cajoled Iraq, Nigeria and other laggards to fulfill their promises to reduce production.

Following the extension, Saudi Arabia made some of the biggest increases to the price of its crude in at least two decades. The steepest will hit July exports to Asia, while overall, the gains erased almost all of the discounts the kingdom made during its brief price war with Russia.

Oil has doubled since April as Opec+ cuts trimmed a global glut and demand staged a rebound after the easing of restrictions in some countries, particularly China. Still, a sustained recovery may be hampered by deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, a second wave of infections, or returning US shale supply following a gain in crude prices.

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Opec+ agreed to cut output by 9.6 million barrels a day in July, 100,000 barrels a day less than this month as Mexico will end its constraints. Any member that doesn't implement 100 per cent of its curbs in May and June will make extra cuts from July to September to compensate.

"The issue of compliance is a major fault line in Opec+ now," said Vandana Hari, founder of energy consultancy Vanda Insights in Singapore. "Crude had mostly priced in the one-month extension of deeper cuts by Friday."

The prompt timespread for Brent was two cents a barrel in contango, narrowing from last week when it settled at 12 cents on Friday. The three-month timespread was at 25 cents in contango.

The month-on-month boost to Saudi Arabia's flagship Arab Light to Asia, which accounts for more than half of Saudi oil sales, is the largest in at least 20 years. Aramco raised Arab Light to Asia by US$6.10 a barrel to a premium of 20 cents over the benchmark.

Meanwhile, Libya's biggest oilfield is gradually resuming production after a five-month shutdown due to civil war. Output will start at an initial 30,000 barrels a day at Sharara and it will take three months to return to full capacity, according to National Oil Corp. It was pumping about 300,000 barrels a day before the shutdown.

In the US Gulf of Mexico, offshore drillers idled about a third of oil production, amounting to about 636,000 barrels of daily output, due to Tropical Storm Cristobal, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The storm has crossed the coast. BLOOMBERG

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