Opec racked up a fourth consecutive monthly output decline in March to fall below 32mn b/d for the first time since May 2016. March marked the halfway point of the group’s six month-long production curb, but at 31.97mn b/d, it remains 190,000 b/d above its target of 31.78mn b/d (adjusted from 32.5mn b/d due to the suspension of Indonesia). Output in the first quarter averaged 430,000 b/d above the target.

The focus is increasingly turning to whether the agreement will be rolled over following Opec’s next meeting on 25 May – whether unchanged or with modifications. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih appears open to the idea, saying in a Bloomberg interview last month that it will be extended if stockpiles remain above the five-year average. This is looking increasingly likely (MEES, 17 March), but Saudi Arabia would also likely require strong compliance from Opec members, along with continued Russian participation. (CONTINUED - 668 WORDS)