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Analysis: OPEC reaches a deal, but still can't give a number

Vienna — OPEC put aside political differences on Friday and agreed to an outputincrease, but provided no details on production allocations.

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* Ministers vague on actual output increase

* Falih-Zanganeh meeting clears the air

* Trump tweets at OPEC again

Days of tense, often dramatic, negotiations ended with a commitment toslightly less than 1 million b/d of theoretical output increasesdistributed across all the 24 members of the OPEC pact with alliesincluding Russia.

No firm numbers were specified in OPEC's final meeting communique, withthe group instead emphasizing that each producer group would pump to itsfull individual quota, doing away with over-compliance.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih -- who pushed hard for an increasein output -- said the volumes amounted to "just under 1 million b/d" forOPEC and its 10 non-OPEC partners, led by Russia.

Debate had been fraught, with Iran's oil minister Bijan Zanganeh at onepoint storming out of a meeting during the week and repeatedly objectingto changing output levels in response to US President Donald Trumpcomplaining on Twitter about high oil prices.

But Zanganeh appeared satisfied when he left the meeting despite hiscountry facing the prospect of US sanctions, which Tehran hoped would bedenounced.

He said full compliance -- without any increase in quotas -- was "what Iwanted from the moment I arrived" in Vienna.

"We didn't discuss about number of barrels," he added. "We agreed tocomply 100% of the resolution between the OPEC member countries."

However, figures provided by ministers ranged between 600,000- 800,000b/d on the actual volume of additional crude they expect OPEC to bring tomarket.

"When they say 1 million b/d and when they say 600,000 b/d, there was astrategy there," said Abhishek Deshpande, JP Morgan's head of oil marketresearch and strategy, who was in Vienna observing the OPEC proceedings."They said 1 million to appease the consumers, and they said 600,000 totell the market, 'Don't drop because we are doing 1 million b/d.'"


More clarity may emerge on Saturday when OPEC is to meet with itsnon-OPEC allies. The next OPEC/non-OPEC monitoring committee meeting isscheduled for September 1 in Algiers and the next full OPEC meeting isDecember 3 in Vienna.

Michael Cohen, head of energy commodities analysis for Barclays Capital,said the stakes were too high for OPEC not to come to an agreement andrisk any kind of market volatility in the months ahead. The status quo ofmaintaining its alliance on the production cut agreement was the bestoption.

"They see a threat to the global economy from higher oil prices and athreat to the long-term demand for their oil from higher oil prices,"Cohen said. "If oil goes to 100/b [and] then back down, that creates avery difficult situation for OPEC to handle. We saw how difficult it wasto get a cut together in 2016. Stability is key."

OPEC produced 31.90 million b/d in May, according to the latest S&PGlobal Platts OPEC survey. Output of the 12 members with hard quotas was710,000 b/d below their combined caps.

Venezuela accounts for some 610,000 b/d of that.

The International Energy Agency estimated that the non-OPEC participantsproduced 220,000 b/d above their caps in May.

That leaves the combined 24-country OPEC/non-OPEC coalition with around500,000 b/d of cushion under its total ceiling.

So it is still unclear how a 1 million b/d production increase wouldenable the coalition to remain in compliance with its individual quotas.


Saudi's Falih suggested negotiations will take place between countrieswith spare capacity to increase production and those unable to do so.

S&P Global Platts Analytics estimates OPEC spare capacity at 2 millionb/d, of which Saudi Arabia holds the vast majority. And it expects thedeal to result in a net realized increase in OPEC production of 700,000b/d, largely from the kingdom.

"We know that certain countries don't have the spare capacity whileothers do, so it will be disproportional in terms of which countries areactually able to pump the additional crude," Falih said.

Meanwhile, Trump seized the opportunity to remind OPEC he will continueto keep them under pressure on oil prices climbing too high.

Within an hour of the meeting wrapping up, the US president tweeted:"Hope OPEC will increase output substantially. Need to keep prices down!" --Herman Wang,

--Andy Critchlow,

--Meghan Gordon,

--Rosemary Griffin,

--Eklavya Gupte,

--Edited by Kevin Saville,