Exclusive: Falih – United States of Saudi Arabia, petroleum demand in China; no change in OPEC policy in April



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PHOTO FILE: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih Speaks at Riyadh Press Conference
PHOTO FILE: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih speaks at a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on January 9, 2019. REUTERS / Faisal Al Nasser / File Photo

March 9, 2019

By Nidhi Verma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Sunday that China and the United States would lead the world's oil demand this year, but it would be too early to change the policy. OPEC + at the next meeting of the group in April.

He said total world demand for oil is expected to increase by about 1.5 million barrels a day (bpd).

"If you only look at Venezuela, you panic, if you look at the United States, you will say that the world is flooded with oil. You have to look at the market as a whole. We think the demand for 2019 is actually pretty healthy, "Falih told Reuters.

In Venezuela, suffering from a political and economic crisis, oil exports have fallen by 40%, reaching about 920,000 b / d since Washington imposed sanctions on its oil industry on January 28th.

In contrast, US production reached a record of more than 12 million bpd in February.

In a report released last month, the International Energy Agency has left its demand growth forecast for 2019 unchanged from January at 1.4 million barrels a day.

Falih said that Chinese demand was breaking records month after month and estimated that the country would exceed 11 million barrels a day (bpd) in 2019.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, he said oil production in April is expected to remain at 9.8 million bpd this month.

"Aramco is finalizing its April allocations today or tomorrow, we will know more on Monday. But I'm expecting April to look a lot like March. "

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies such as Russia – known as the OPEC + alliance – will meet in Vienna on April 17 and 18 and another meeting is scheduled for 25 and 26 June.

Falih said it was unlikely that the group would change its production policy in April and, if necessary, make adjustments in June.

"We will see what happens next April when there is an unexpected disruption elsewhere, but if we do not do it, I think we will only launch the box," Falih said.

"We will see where the market is by June and we will adjust accordingly," Falih said.

On January 1, OPEC + began further production cuts in order to avoid an overabundance of supply that threatened to drive down prices. The group agreed to reduce the supply of 1.2 million barrels a day for six months.

Sources recently said that the OPEC + production policy should be approved in June and that the current scenario could be extended, but this will depend to a large extent on the extent of US sanctions imposed on oil and gas. Iran and Venezuela, members of the OPEC.

OPEC's share is 800,000 barrels a day and is to be delivered to eleven members, with the exception of Iran, Libya and Venezuela, which are exempted from reductions. The baseline for the reduction was in most cases their production in October 2018.

(Report by Nidhi Verma, edited by Kirsten Donovan)

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