Saudi says closely monitoring oil markets, ready to act

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia said Tuesday it was closely monitoring oil markets and stood ready to take further measures after crude prices plunged to historic lows.

“The kingdom continues to closely monitor the situation in the oil markets and is prepared to take any additional measures in cooperation with OPEC+ and other producers,” the cabinet said in a statement cited by the official Saudi Press Agency.

It said cabinet reiterated that the kingdom is constantly working to achieve stability in the oil market, reaffirming a commitment along with Russia to implement agreed output cuts over the next two years.

Under the deal, which ended a bitter price war amid a supply glut with the coronavirus pandemic battering global demand, Riyadh and Moscow will cut 2.5 million barrels per day each.

The OPEC+ group of major producers last week agreed record production cuts of 9.7 million bpd to prop up prices that had shed more than 60 percent as the COVID-19 illness shut down businesses worldwide.

Producers outside the alliance pledged to cut an additional 3.7 million bpd.

But that was not enough to prevent crude prices plunging into negative territory for the first time on Monday.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crashed to close in New York at minus $37.63 per barrel amid a perfect storm of low demand, an output gult and a lack of storage.

The OPEC+ agreement calls for full-scale cuts over the months of May and June, with limited increases for the rest of the year.

Algeria, another large producer and highly dependent on crude export revenues, said it had taken the necessary measures to deal with falling prices, according to the official news agency APS.

“We foresaw this crisis, and we took precautions,” said spokesman Belaid Mohand Oussaid, according to the report.

“We still have the crisis under control, and we hope the global oil market will catch its breath soon and prices will level.”

Oil prices continued to slide on Tuesday with the international benchmark Brent crude dropping briefly below $19 a barrel for the first time in two decades.

US West Texas Intermediate crude rebounded but still was trading at – $2.39 a barrel. (AFP)