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OPEC Proposes Massive Oil Production Cuts... But the Deal Depends on Russia

By Jason Hall - Mar 5, 2020 at 1:23PM

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The deal hinges on whether non-OPEC partners including Russia agreeing to a combined 1.5 million-barrel daily production cut.

Only a few days after reports that Saudi Arabia was planning to propose a 1 million barrel per day reduction in crude oil output to its OPEC counterparts, the group, which controls more than one-third of the world's oil, has now agreed on a massive 1.5 million barrel production cut.

Unlike the reaction to the Saudi proposal, which sent crude oil prices up more than 4%, oil markets are not viewing today's news nearly so favorably. At this writing, both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude futures are down slightly at $50.24 and $46.12 per barrel at recent prices. 

Oil worker setting pipe on drilling platform.

Image source: Getty Images.

Oil stocks are taking the news even less favorably. At this writing, shares of oil and gas giant ExxonMobil (XOM 2.23%) are down 5%, while the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Explorer & Production ETF (XOP 1.21%) is down 4%. 

Proposed cuts hinge on Russia's decision

While OPEC member states have agreed to the proposal, OPEC+ member Russia has not yet to agreed to participate in the cuts. According to the deal, OPEC members will shoulder the first 1 million barrels per day in cuts -- essentially what Saudi Arabia was proposing -- but is asking for the countries that make up OPEC+ to take on the additional half-million barrels in cuts. 

Russia is by far the largest non-core-OPEC producer in the OPEC+ group, and the full cuts that OPEC is asking from this group requires Russia's involvement. However, the country's leadership has said that while they are open to cooperation, president Vladimir Putin has also said that, "...for the Russian budget, for our economy, the current oil prices [sic] level is acceptable." 

Whether OPEC+ can agree to the full 1.5 million cuts will remain to be seen, but it's clear by the oil market's reaction that the general feeling is it may not be likely. 

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Exxon Mobil Corporation Stock Quote
Exxon Mobil Corporation
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SPDR Series Trust - SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF
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