International oil prices fell on Wednesday after a key ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies was moved from Sunday to November 30.
The Vienna-based organisation announced the postponement of the OPEC+ alliance gathering in a brief statement, without providing any explanation.
The 13 OPEC members headed by Saudi Arabia and ten partners led by Russia are due to decide on their output policy amid slumping crude prices and recent rumours of discord among alliance members.
Global crude prices shed more than five percent following the surprise announcement but stablised a little.
At 16:30 GMT, Brent North Sea crude was down 3.9 per cent at $79.27 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate was 4.1 per cent lower at $74.61.
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“Uncertainty is never good for financial markets, which now have to wait longer to get clarity what OPEC+ will do next year,” UBS analyst, Giovanni Staunovo, told AFP.
The postponement also signalled the existence of “different views among the group’s participants”, he added, confirming what two OPEC+ sources had said.
The alliance has postponed ministerial meetings in the past, “but never for four days” indicating difficulties to reach agreement, said Jorge Leon of Rystad Energy.
With oil prices plummeting below $80 per barrel since peaking in September, analysts expect further production cuts by the alliance.
But the great unknown is how the cuts would be implemented next year and potentially shared among members.
In recent months, nine OPEC+ members including Riyadh, Moscow, Baghdad, and Dubai have reduced their output.
Saudi Arabia bore the brunt, voluntarily slashing production by a further million barrels a day since July.
At the last meeting in June, the United Arab Emirates obtained an increase in their volume for 2024, to the detriment of other countries such as Angola, Congo, and Nigeria.