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OPEC secretary general stresses need for caution in managing oil market recovery

Highlights

OPEC, allies will meet March 4 to decide on oil quotas

Pandemic still presents downside risks: Barkindo

OPEC forecasts 5.8 million b/d demand growth in 2021

London — The global economy continues to rebound from the pandemic, but OPEC and its allies need to remain disciplined with their oil production to ensure its full recovery, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said March 2.

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"We must emphasize in strong terms: cautious optimism, cautious optimism, cautious optimism," Barkindo said at a delegate level OPEC+ technical committee meeting, two days ahead of when ministers will convene online to decide on production levels for April and perhaps beyond.

Several members are expected to push for a loosening of quotas. Under the current agreement, OPEC and nine allies are cutting a collective 7.2 million b/d of production, which can be eased by up to 500,000 b/d each month.

Saudi Arabia, which has preferred a more conservative approach, has voluntarily instituted an extra 1 million b/d cut that expires at the end of March.

Barkindo said OPEC's analysts project global oil demand will grow by 5.8 million b/d in 2021 to reach 96 million b/d.

That compares to a pre-pandemic market of around 100 million b/d.

"The encouraging global economic developments and resilient demand in Asia are upside factors," Barkindo said.

But he added that global COVID-19 infections rose in the last week of February, indicating the pandemic still poses downside risks to the economy. The distribution of vaccines, which favors the world's richer nations, will also lead to an uneven recovery, he said.

"Progress on COVID-19 vaccinations continues in many countries, but the current pace shows that many developing countries risk being left behind," Barkindo said. "We hold out hope that the multilateral and multiparty efforts will support inclusive and speedy worldwide access to inoculations."

The OPEC+ Joint Technical Committee is tasked with reviewing market conditions and assessing member quota compliance. It advises the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, which meets at 1300 GMT on March 3.

The JMMC, in turn, advises the full OPEC+ conference, which meets at 1300 GMT on March 4.