Loading articles...

OPEC pushes Russia for deep output cuts amid virus outbreak

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia, arrives for a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, and non OPEC members at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Friday, March 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

VIENNA — The OPEC oil cartel is trying to convince Russia and other non-member producers to join in deep production cuts to prevent weak oil prices from falling even further as the virus outbreak disrupts the global economy.

Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, entered the OPEC headquarters without answering journalist’s questions as officials prepared to take up the cartel’s proposal to cut output by 1.5 million barrels a day, of 1.5% of world production.

OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran say they need non-member allies to take 500,000 barrels of that cut on themselves.

Analysts say OPEC may struggle to keep oil prices from falling further.

Right now, the international crude benchmark trades a little over $50 per barrel, down from $69 in January before the outbreak. The spread of the coronavirus has sharply reduced air travel and thus the demand for fuel, while industry in China, the world’s second largest economy, has been severely disrupted through shutdowns and travel restrictions.

Some economists think the global economy may shrink in the first quarter for the first time since the financial crisis, sapping demand for energy.

Oil production in the U.S., which is not part of OPEC and unlike Russia does not co-operate in its output decisions, has ramped up in recent years, flooding the market and keeping prices down.

Kiyoko Metzler And David McHugh, The Associated Press