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New Saudi energy minister says OPEC+ alliance staying for long term

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By Dahlia Nehme, Maha El Dahan and Stanley Carvalho

ABUDHABI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister said on Monday the world’s top oil exporter would keep working with other producers to achieve market balance and that an OPEC-led supply-curbing deal would survive “with the will of everybody”.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who took over as energy minister from Khalid al-Falih on Sunday, told reporters there would be “no radical” change in the oil policy of Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, which he said was based on strategic considerations such as reserves and energy consumption.

The prince had helped negotiate the deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, to cut global crude supply in order to support prices and balance the market.

He told reporters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Abu Dhabi that the OPEC+ alliance was “staying for the long term” and called on OPEC members to comply with output targets.

“We have always worked in a cohesive, coherent way within OPEC to make sure that producers work and prosper together,” the prince said.

“It would be wrong from my end to pre-empt the rest of the OPEC members,” he said when asked whether there was a need for further oil production cuts to support the market.

The Saudi minister declined to comment on oil prices, which rose on Monday on news of his appointment. Global benchmark Brent <LCOc1> crude futures were up 35 cents at $61.89 a barrel by 0846 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate <CLc1> was up 31 cents at $56.83. [O/R]

Prince Abdulaziz said he did not believe world energy demand had slowed and that the global economic outlook was expected to improve once a trade dispute between the United States and China was resolved.

The oil ministers of Oman and Iraq earlier told reporters in Abu Dhabi that it was too early to assess whether deeper cuts were required to support oil markets at a time of global recession concerns due to the U.S.-China row.

The oil minister of Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, said Baghdad was committed to complying with the OPEC-led deal and that his country’s production stood at 4.6 million barrels per day.

“We are definitely committed to respect (the curbs) … our exports have decreased by at least 150,000 bpd from the south,” Thamer Ghadhban said.

On Sunday the United Arab Emirates’ energy minister, Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui, said OPEC and non-OPEC producers were “committed” to achieving oil market balance and that Abu Dhabi would support any consensus decision on further production cuts.

The OPEC+ joint ministerial monitoring committee, known as JMMC, will meet on Thursday in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of the energy conference.

(Reporting by Dahlia Nehme, Maha El Dahan, Stanely Carvalho, Rania El Gamal, Dmitry Zhdannikov and Alexander Cornwell in Abu Dhabi; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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