OPEC meeting: Is there going to be a Saudi change of heart?

Friday 27/11/2015
Naimi: We will listen and then decide

VIENNA - The outcome of this week's OPEC meeting remains to be decided, Saudi Arabia's oil minister said Tuesday amid widespread expectations that the cartel will keep production levels unchanged.

"We have a meeting on Friday. We will discuss all these issues and then decide... We will listen and then decide," Ali al-Naimi told reporters as he arrived in Vienna before Friday's gathering.

At the meeting, the 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are expected to leave their collective output ceiling at 30 million barrels per day.

This is despite the fact that oil prices are currently languishing around $40 a barrel, down from over $100 in mid-2014, due to a massive production glut.

OPEC's strategy, driven by kingpin Saudi Arabia, is instead aimed at maintaining market share and squeezing US producers of shale oil, which have much higher production costs, experts say.

Naimi appeared to deny any such aim on Tuesday, however, saying: "Which strategy? Who said we are keeping market share? Did I ever say we (have) such a strategy?".

Further downwards pressure on oil prices is expected to come next year from OPEC member Iran ramping up oil exports as sanctions are lifted as part of July's nuclear deal with major powers.

In addition, the expected rise in US interest rates later this month may boost the dollar and make dollar-priced oil more expensive, further denting demand and prices.