OPEC gets closer to a production cut

Global oil producers are getting closer to an agreement on an output cut.

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Saudi representatives said Sunday that the kingdom would slash its exports unilaterally next month, as a broader OPEC alliance debated -- but didn't agree to -- a collective production cut, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Russia, the world's largest producer, which usually moves in lockstep on matters with OPEC, has sent mixed signals on whether it would pull back on supply.

Russia's oil minister Alexander Novak said he was open to crude production cuts if the coalition reaches a consensus, and would adhere to any decision it makes. But he also said Russian production had "reached a certain level where we have stabilized and we will be fluctuating around that level in coming months."

Saudi Arabia, Russia and other producers met in the United Arab Emirates capital over the weekend to debate whether reductions of about one million barrels a day might be necessary next year, with a decision expected at an OPEC meeting next month.

Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC and Russia, which heads an alliance of producers outside the cartel, agreed to boost production at a meeting in June over fears U.S. sanctions on Iran would trigger shortages.

Three days after the sanctions went into effect on Nov. 5, U.S. oil entered a bear market.

And since late September, when OPEC and its Russia-led partners last met in Algiers, the price of Brent crude has fallen by more than $10 per barrel.

In roughly the same period, U.S. oil prices have dropped 21% to $60 a barrel -- an eight-month low, according to Dow Jones.

Oil prices extended declines after the U.S. said last week that it would allow eight countries to continue buying sanctioned Iranian crude.

Selling continued after U.S. oil inventories rose again, driven by mounting production and weakening fuel demand. U.S. prices tumbled for 10 straight sessions through Friday, the longest losing streak since 1984.