Oil holds above $75 as investors weigh OPEC+ deadlock with fresh talks ahead

Oil pump sunset background

Oil futures held above $75 a barrel on Monday morning, as markets wait to see whether OPEC+ talks today can resolve the deadlock on an output deal driven by a clash between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The OPEC+ group of major oil-producing countries failed last week to come to agreement on output quotas for 2021 and on extending the underlying internal supply deal by seven months, to December 2022. A fresh round of talks is due on Monday.

Brent crude futures were last up 0.24% at 4:45 am E.T., trading at $76.37 per barrel. WTI futures on Globex were up 0.23% at $75.32.

Saudi Arabia and Russia are pushing for a slow increase of 400,000 barrels a day each month for the rest of 2021, which most OPEC+ members back. The snag came with the extension to the deal that denotes how much oil each country contributes to overall supply from the group. The UAE refused to accept the extension without an adjustment to its contribution quota, which it sees as out of line with its output capacity and unfair compared with Saudi Arabia’s arrangement.

Should the deadlock in OPEC+ not be resolved, then the July ouput agreement could automatically run throughout August by default, said Kevin Solomon, energy economics analyst at StoneX.

“This would be troubling scenario for the global economy; the oil market would tighten at an even faster rate and prices could quickly exceed $80/bbl, which would hamper the global economic growth prospects through inflationary pressures,” Solomon said in a note.

Demand for oil is likely to rise as a result of the easing of pandemic restrictions, so the restrictions on supply could cause prices to skyrocket, he said. Ensuing price rises could in turn slow down global economic recovery.

Alternatively, OPEC+ could break apart over the deadlock. That would likely flood the oil market with supply as producers rushed to take advantage of a lack of quotas, some analysts say. In that scenario, prices would slump as supply outstripped demand.

With futures at their current level, the likelihood is for OPEC+ to find a way to resolve the impasse, Bjarne Schieldrop, commodities chief analyst at SEB said.

“However, with a Brent crude oil price of USD 76/bl the current oil market is too much of a joy to ruin by not finding a solution. We thus think that there will be some kind of compromise in the end where both Saudi Arabia, Russia and the UAE all get a little bit of what they want. But it could certainly drag on for several more days before a deal is reached,” Schieldrop said in a note.

This report has been updated to correct the figure for the proposed output increase.

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