Saudi-Russia policy shift sets stage for tense Opec meeting

Crude oil prices have remained high in the recent past due to production cuts by Opec and a gradual recovery in the global economic growth

"Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, Al Falih said: "I think in the near future there will be time to release supply" smoothly to avoid shocking the market".

Oil fell sharply following the comments, with Brent crude losing as much as 2.5 per cent to $76.84 a barrel as of 12:02 p.m.in London.

Reuters reported overnight that the groups are discussing gradually raising output by around a million barrels per day.

Oil prices plunged Friday as Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation neared a deal to increase oil production after more than a year of holding crude off the market.

"I strongly believe that we will find a compromise, because all countries are interested in a stable market", Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a Bloomberg television interview in St. Petersburg on Friday.

Oil is trading near a three-and-a-half-year high as concern about the potential supply disruptions has boosted prices further after crude rebounded from the worst crash in a generation on the back of output cuts made by OPEC and its allies. Hanson said Friday that OPEC members, supported by the Kremlin, were making market decisions of their own.

"Oil prices will soften in the near term, as a outcome of Opec easing supply curbs", said Ashley Kelty at Cantor Fitzgerald.

The joint production freeze was put in place to arrest a plunge in premium crude prices to below $30 a barrel in early 2016, and analysts said it largely succeeded in stabilizing prices in the $40 to $50 range.

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Opec secretary-general Mohammad Barkindo said the idea of increasing output came following a critical tweet from US President Donald Trump, who said last month that Opec had "artificially" boosted oil prices.

Russia's energy minister, Alexander Novak, hinted at such a plan on Thursday.

The JTC meeting precedes the producers' main gathering next month in Vienna, where they will evaluate the results of output cuts they've been making since January 2017.

Next year, higher OPEC/Russian production, stronger USA onshore growth and slightly weaker global demand "will lead to a better supplied market; moderate global stock builds are forecast for 2019", which should exert downward pressure on prices next year.

Meanwhile, The adoption of 240 million electric vehicles by 2040 will cause oil demand to peak by the mid-2020s, which will destroy $19 trillion in income, according to Aurora Energy Research Ltd.

"The talks now are to bring compliance down to 100 percent level, more for OPEC rather than for non-OPEC", one source said.

Oil's gains picked up steam earlier this month after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 worldwide nuclear agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program, setting the stage for renewed economic sanctions that could reduce Iran's output.

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