OPEC+ expected to stick with planned Feb output increase, sources say

LONDON/MOSCOW: OPEC+ is expected to stick to its plans for a February output increase when it meets on Tuesday, predicting a mild and short-lived impact on demand from the Omicron coronavirus variant, three sources from the group of oil producers told Reuters on Monday.

OPEC+, a grouping of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia, has been gradually unwinding record oil production cuts agreed in 2020 to counter the demand destruction from the pandemic.

Current plans would see it raise its February production target by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) as it has done each month since mid-2021.

In a technical report seen by Reuters on Sunday, the group downplayed the impact on the oil market from the Omicron variant.

“The impact of … Omicron … is expected to be mild and short-lived, as the world becomes better equipped to manage COVID-19 and its related challenges,” the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) report said.

“This is in addition to a steady economic outlook in both the advanced and emerging economies,” it added.

While the group has been raising its targets, its production increases have not kept pace as some members struggle with capacity constraints.

OPEC+ oil producers missed their production targets by 650,000 bpd in November and 730,000 bpd in October, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said last month.

OPEC will hold a meeting on Monday at 1300 GMT to discuss the appointment of a new secretary general to succeed Nigeria’s Mohammad Barkindo.

Haitham al-Ghais, a former Kuwaiti governor to OPEC, is expected to get the job as he enjoys wide support from member countries, sources told Reuters last week.

The JTC is also meeting on Monday to discuss market fundamentals.

In the JTC report’s base scenario, OECD commercial oil stocks in 2022 will remain below the 2015-2019 average in the first three quarters before rising above that average by 24 million barrels in the fourth quarter.

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