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OPEC+ technical meeting planned for March 18 canceled: sources

Dubai — A Joint Technical Committee meeting of OPEC+ members proposed for next week has been canceled, sources said Thursday, quashing what could be the last official opportunity for Russia and Saudi Arabia to engage in dialogue before a free-for-all on oil production ensues.

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The meeting, which would have assessed members' compliance in the final month of oil production cuts, was scheduled for March 18.

Russia, which opposed measures put forth at the OPEC+ ministerial conference in Vienna last week, was willing to join the JTC meeting, sources said. Saudi Arabia, however, has declined to participate.

"Attempts to fix the situation are failing," said one source. "The Saudis are showing no interest."

The JTC meeting was most likely to have taken place as a conference call rather than in person, owing to travel restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic. No new dates have been put forward for a future meeting.

Talks to extend and deepen oil production cuts by the 23-member OPEC+ alliance collapsed after Russia refused to sign up to a deal that would see the nations slash a further combined 1.5 million b/d of output until the end of 2020.

The breakdown of talks has sent oil prices to levels not seen since 2016, when the alliance was formed.

OPEC+ is in the last month of an agreement to trim 1.7 million b/d from global market that expires at the end of March.

As of April 1, members are free to pump without restriction.

In recent days Russia has said it would increase output by 500,000 b/d, while Saudi Arabia said it will supply the market with 12.3 million b/d next month and announced plans to raise is maximum production capacity by 1 million b/d to 13 million b/d in what analysts have called a price war.

Meanwhile, the UAE has announced it will unleash an additional 1 million b/d, which is an increase of 25% on its current production.

The price of Brent crude was $33.73/b at 1200 GMT Thursday.