“There seems to be a consensus in that direction, but we’re not 100 percent there,” Al-Falih told reporters Wednesday after meeting Azeri Energy Minister Natiq Aliyev in Baku. “We still need to talk to all countries. A very important country to talk to, of course, is Russia, the biggest non-OPEC exporter.”
The two ministers will meet within the next two weeks and hopefully speak on the phone this week to “develop a decision that everybody has to support,” Al-Falih said.
A number of major Middle East crude producers countries reached an initial agreement last week to extend output cuts beyond their June expiry. That decision came after three months of limits on production led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia failed to achieve their target of reducing oil inventories below the five-year historical average. They will make a final decision whether to prolong their agreement into the second half at a meeting in Vienna on May 25.
The Saudi minister said he expects the oil market to balance by June. If it doesn’t, “all of us will be pragmatic enough to do the right thing, which is to bring this market into balance.”
Al-Falih thanked his Azeri counterpart for backing the Saudi position on the need to prolong curbs. “We’re totally aligned. We think we need to bring global inventories to where the five-year average should be.”