Opec output fell for the second straight month in March to 32.24mn b/d, but those hoping for a swift oil market rebalance shouldn’t get too excited. Iran notched up its largest rise since sanctions were lifted, while the key driver of last month’s fall was maintenance work in the UAE. With this work preparing the way for a planned production capacity hike, the fall is just a temporary blip.

Oil markets are currently on tenterhooks ahead of the planned 17 April Doha meeting between major oil producers about a potential production freeze. Perceived indications as to the likely outcome of the meeting have seen oil prices fluctuate in recent days: Saudi Arabia indicates a freeze agreement can be reached without Iran having to halt production growth and Brent creeps above $40/B; Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman says any freeze must include Iran, and Brent falls back to around $38/B. Kuwait’s willingness to participate in a freeze and the planned resumption of production at the 300,000 b/d Khafji oilfield shared 50:50 by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (MEES, 1 April) have also been seized upon in this way. (CONTINUED - 1260 WORDS)