OPEC, Russia say oil cuts are deeper and faster than expected

Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia said they are ahead of schedule implementing their historic agreement to curb oil output and boost prices. Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Kuwait have already made deeper cuts than required, while Russia has been able to reduce supply faster than expected, ministers from the countries said as they arrived in Vienna on Saturday. Producers have already removed 1.5 million barrels a day from the market, according to Saudi Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Al-Falih. “We are ahead of schedule and we will continue,” Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters in the Austrian capital on Saturday. “We are doing our best to maximise participation in the fulfilment of the agreement." Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Algeria and Venezuela are meeting counterparts from non-OPEC nations Russia and Oman to figure out ways to verify that the 24 signatories to December 10 accord are following through on their pledge to remove a combined 1.8 million barrels a day from the market for six months. They intend to prove the group is serious about finally eliminating a three-year crude oversupply and dispel scepticism stemming from previous unfulfilled promises. International oil prices rose to an 18-month high of more than $58 a barrel after the OPEC and several non-members agreed on December 10 to end two years of unfettered production and instead cut output. Crude has since slipped about 5 per cent from that peak as traders await proof that they will follow through. (Anna Shiryaevskaya, Grant Smith and Angelina Rascouet/Bloomberg)

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