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OPEC Said to Remain Split as Saudis Call Cut Not Essential

  • Delegates said to fail to bridge divisions after 10 hours
  • Oil market to recover in 2017 even without cuts, Al-Falih says

OPEC officials failed on Monday to bridge their differences on an agreement to cut production and revive oil prices, following comments from Saudi Arabia that output curbs aren’t essential.

With just two days left before ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meet to finalize the first decline in production in eight years, the foundations for a deal are looking increasingly shaky.

After a 10-hour meeting, Iraq and Iran continued to express objections, according to an OPEC delegate who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the negotiations. The result: OPEC officials agreed to refer the matter to ministers for further consideration. A proposed deal would trim production by 1.2 million barrels a day from October levels, though it remains unclear whether the idea has the support needed for approval, the delegate said.

Brent crude oil pared gains after the news to trade at $47.98 a barrel as of 9:37 a.m. in Singapore, after touching $48.81 on Monday.

Inside the meeting, countries fought to the very last barrel. Iran suggested a deal whereby it freezes production at 3.975 million barrels a day, or about 200,000 barrels a day above its current output, according to two OPEC delegates with knowledge of the talks. Saudi Arabia countered with a proposal for Iran to cap output at 3.707 million barrels a day, roughly its current level.

In an attempt to break the impasse, Algeria, which is acting as a go-between in
the talks, offered an alternative that would see Iran freezing at 3.795 million barrels a day, the delegates said. It’s...