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Saudi Arabia says it will cut production to stem a slide in oil prices

An OPEC-branded flag sits on a delegate desk ahead of the 33rd meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC countries in Vienna in this October 2022 photo.  (Akos Stiller/Bloomberg)
By Stanley Reed New York Times

The group of major oil-producing countries known as OPEC+ said Sunday that it would embark on a complex effort to adjust production as it aimed to halt the recent slide in oil prices, including an additional cut in output of 1 million barrels a day by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi cut would be for one month beginning in July, but could be extended.

The group, which also includes Russia and its allies, was under pressure to produce a deal to reverse the pessimism that has dominated the oil market in recent weeks. Despite two substantial output cuts since October, the price of oil has drifted about 15% lower over the past seven months.

OPEC+, in a statement, said that it was acting “to achieve and sustain a stable oil market,” and that it was continuing its recent approach of being “proactive, and preemptive.”

As far as the markets are concerned, the key feature of the agreement is the additional production cut by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi oil minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, called the move “the Saudi lollipop” as he announced it during a news conference after the meeting.

The oil officials met over the weekend in Vienna to decide what to do about markets that have weakened in recent weeks. Salman had been particularly vocal about warning that the group might cut production to shore up prices and trip up traders betting on lower prices.

Other producers, including Russia, have been less enthusiastic about scaling back production.

Sunday’s meeting occurred only two months after OPEC+ announced an earlier round of cuts. Those trims began in May and have had little time to make an impact. Analysts also say that the oil markets – where prices have slipped about 12% since mid-April – have been heavily influenced by broader economic factors, including China’s weaker-than-expected economic growth since the end of its “zero COVID” policies. That could lessen the impact of supply cuts.

On Thursday and Friday, after Washington reached a deal on the debt ceiling, prices for Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose about $3 a barrel to about $76 a barrel, but prices remain slightly below their levels on the eve of the April cut.

Saudi Arabia’s announcement comes a couple of days before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit the country for talks with Saudi leaders.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.