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Highlights

Barkindo, Birol to 'remain in close contact'

Continued income cuts to hurt healthcare, education: IEA

Developing countries will be hard hit by recent oil price volatility and the coronavirus outbreak, the heads of OPEC and the International Energy Agency said Monday, as financial markets took yet another plunge and the global economy slid further into crisis.

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OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo and IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol "underscored the importance of market stability, as the impacts of extreme volatility are felt by producers, particularly in terms of much needed income, and by both producers and consumers, who are affected by an unstable and unpredictable market," their organizations said in a joint statement after they conferred by phone.

The officials agreed to "remain in close contact ... and continue their regular consultations on oil market developments," but did not reveal any concrete steps they could take to stem the selloff.

Crude prices have been in meltdown since OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and erstwhile ally Russia broke off a more than three-year partnership of production cuts earlier in March and launched a price war by threatening to surge their output in April.

The looming flood of barrels will come into a market already distressed by the economic and public health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Barkindo and Birol reviewed a recent IEA analysis that noted if current market conditions continue, developing nations' oil and natural gas income would fall by 50-85% this year.

"This is likely to have major social and economic consequences, notably for public sector spending in vital areas such as healthcare and education," they said.

OPEC is a bloc of 13 major oil producing nations, led by Saudi Arabia, that control about a third of global crude supply. The IEA, which has 30 members, represents oil consuming countries and aims to offset physical disruptions to the market.

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