Exclusive:Oil Prices Rise As OPEC+ Deal For Slow Production Hike Takes Shape
Exclusive:Oil Prices Rise As OPEC+ Deal For Slow Production Hike Takes Shape

OPEC+ is meeting Thursday to discuss output quotas for August and potentially beyond as oil prices hit three-year highs.

U.S. crude climbed 2.6% to $75.33 a barrel, the highest level since October 2018, and up more than 50% so far this year. Brent crude rose 2% to $76.10 per barrel.

Saudi Arabia, de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and top partner Russia have a tentative agreement to gradually add 2 million barrels a day to OPEC+'s output between August and December, sources told Bloomberg. Talks are ongoing and any deal would be conditional on U.S.-Iran efforts to revive the nuclear accord.

There is significant room in the oil market to absorb more production, and an additional 2 million bpd by December would still fall short of demand estimates. On Monday, OPEC estimated that if output stays the same, the supply provided by the oil group will fall short of expected demand by 1.5 million bpd in August and 2.2 million bpd in Q4.

OPEC+ agreed earlier last month to lift production by 350,000 barrels per day in June and by 441,000 bpd in July.

But OPEC+ quotas to keep 5.8 million bpd off global markets expire in April. And when that happens, the world could see an oversupply, according an internal OPEC report seen by Reuters.

As a result, Thursday's OPEC+ meeting is expected to see discussions about a potential extension of its current deal beyond April 2022, sources told Reuters.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) shares rallied 1.5% in premarket trading on the stock market today, and Chevron (CVX) added 1.7%. Among top shale stocks, Diamondback Energy (FANG) rose 2.2% while EOG Resources (EOG) gained 1.8%, and Continental Resources (CLR) climbed 2.6% early Thursday.

Iran Question Looms Over Oil Prices

The potential return of Iranian crude to the market has been hanging over oil prices this year. But recently, that prospect has started to fade.

Talks between Iran and Western powers are expected to continue soon to revive the nuclear deal that the U.S. left in 2018. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action lifted sanctions on Iranian oil in return for limits on Tehran's nuclear program.

But a senior U.S. State Department official told the media Thursday that there are still differences between the two sides and if progress isn't made in the "foreseeable future, we're going to have to regroup."

The uncertainty around Iran could be good news for OPEC+.

"They say they could make a decision to return to the deal but we are still waiting," Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for the Price Futures Group, wrote in a note Friday. "That will make OPEC+ job a lot easier because let's face it, the cartel wants higher prices and that's exactly what they are getting."

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