EconSource: Saudi Floats Idea to Lift Oil Prices but Iran, Russia Reject Cuts

Saudi Arabia reportedly floated the idea of a global deal to balance oil markets and lift prices, although fellow producers Iran and Russia on Thursday rejected the prospect of cutting output. Saudi Arabia may propose that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut output by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) next year. A report by Energy Intelligence quoted a senior OPEC delegate as saying the Saudis would agree to cut production if Iraq freezes production increases and Iran and non-OPEC members, including Russia, contribute. “We cannot cut alone. Everyone has to contribute to that—Iran, Iraq, and the rest outside OPEC,” the Wall Street Journal quoted a Gulf official as saying. A Saudi source called the report “baseless” but declined to comment further. Iran’s OPEC Governor Mehdi Asali said a cut in OPEC oil production is unlikely. Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak said he sees no need for Moscow to decrease oil production and does not expect OPEC to change output policies at a meeting on Friday. Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said Iraq will maintain its oil production plans. [Reuters, Bloomberg, 12/3/2015]

Egypt’s Central Bank to inject dollar liquidity over next month
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) plans to inject dollar liquidity into the market this month and is planning an exceptional foreign exchange auction. A statement issued following a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and CBE Governor Tarek Amer said that Egypt’s foreign reserves are stable and will improve in the coming period. The statement did not say where Egypt would source the dollars for the planned foreign exchange injections or how it expects to rebuild its foreign currency reserves. Meanwhile, the CBE said its new mechanism for dollar auctions will allocate dollars based on banks’ effectiveness in providing foreign currency to the local market, stressing the priority on covering basic goods. The new mechanism will assess banks based on their ability to extend credit facilities in foreign currency to cover their clients’ needs. [Reuters, DNE, 12/2/2015]

Russia halts work on Turkish Stream gas pipeline project
Russia has suspended preparatory work on the Turkish Stream pipeline project, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. “Currently work on Turkish Stream has been halted,” Novak said, because “an intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation has stopped meeting.” However, Novak said talks on building a nuclear power plant in Turkey remain open. Meanwhile, Turkish officials have said they are not very worried about Russian trade sanctions against Turkish goods. “Our trade with Russia is just at around 1 percent of our gross domestic product. This is not an intolerable amount as we can compensate this loss by increasing our trade with other countries,” Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said. “We have already been in search of alternative markets. At this point, we can overcome the losses with other markets, such as European Union members,” he added. [Reuters, AFP, 12/3/2015]

Turkey open to LNG storage projects with Qatar
Turkey’s Petroleum Pipeline Corporation and Qatar’s national oil company signed a memorandum of understanding for long term liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade on Wednesday. According to Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, both parties signed the memorandum in order to provide regular and long term LNG trade to Turkey. The amount of LNG to be traded was not specified. “We viewed positively a possible LNG storage investment or other steps with Qatar, as a result of obvious developments regarding Turkey,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. Turkey has previously explored the possibility of LNG storage projects with Russia and negotiations with Qatar aim to cover any shortages in gas supplies from Russia. However, a source from Russia’s Gazprom told Reutersthat gas supplies to Turkey are flowing normally. Erdogan also announced the signing of a visa-free travel agreement between Turkey and Qatar. [Reuters, Anadolu Agency, 12/2/2015]

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