LONDON — Oil producer group OPEC has been plunged into crisis, with bitter infighting between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates raising questions about the future of the energy alliance.

Is this the end of OPEC? How Saudi Arabia and UAE infighting threatens the future of the oil alliance- oil and gas 360

Source: CNBC

OPEC and non-OPEC partners, a group of some of the world’s most powerful oil producers, abruptly abandoned plans to reconvene on Monday after last week’s meetings unexpectedly failed to broker a deal on oil production policy. The group did not set a new date to resume talks.

It means no agreement has been reached on a possible increase in crude production beyond the end of July, leaving oil markets in a state of limbo just as global fuel demand recovers from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“OPEC+ has been thrown its most serious crisis since last year’s ill-fated price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia,” Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said in a research note.

“Back-channel talks reportedly are continuing, but questions about UAE’s commitment to remaining in OPEC will likely grow in the coming days.”

The UAE-Saudi dispute appeared to be about more than oil policy, Croft said, with Abu Dhabi “seemingly intent on stepping outside Saudi Arabia’s shadow and charting its own course in global affairs.”

OPEC+, which is dominated by Middle East crude producers, agreed to implement massive crude production cuts in 2020 in an effort to support oil prices when the coronavirus pandemic coincided with a historic fuel demand shock.

Led by Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the UAE, OPEC+ has met monthly to decide on production policy.

OPEC solidarity ‘dissolved’

The disarray comes after OPEC+ on Friday voted on a proposal to increase oil production by roughly 2 million barrels per day between August and the end of the year in 400,000 barrels per day monthly installments. It also proposed to extend the remaining output cuts to the end of 2022.

The plans were rejected by the UAE, however, which wants a higher baseline to its quota to allow for more domestic production.

“No agreement was reached and as we stand now the OPEC+ alliance, if it is still the right word to describe the group, will produce at the July level for the rest of the year,” Tamas Varga, oil analyst at PVM Oil Associates, said in a research note.

“The [non-] outcome of the meeting re-writes the supply-demand landscape for the near and potentially for the distant future,” he added.

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