OPEC Delays Long-Term Strategy Amid Rift Over Production

  • Approval of five-year plan delayed until 2016, delegates said
  • Members disagree mainly over output levels, production quotas

From left to right, Minister of Oil of Iraq, Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, Minister of oil of Iran, Namdar Zangeneh, Venezuela's Minister for Petroleum and Mining, Asdrubal Chavez J, and Secretary General of the International Energy Forum (IEF), Aldo Flores-Quiroga, and Secretary General of the Energy Charter, arrive to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) 's 6th International seminar at Hofburg Place on June 3, 2015 in Vienna, prior to the OPEC meeting on June 5, 2015.

Photographer: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

OPEC’s board of governors was unable to agree on the group’s long-term strategy plan and won’t present it to oil ministers when they meet on Dec. 4 in Vienna, two OPEC delegates with knowledge of the matter said.

Approval of the plan is delayed until at least the next meeting of the board of governors in 2016, said the delegates, who asked not to be identified because the plan isn’t public. Calls to the headquarters of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna weren’t immediately answered.

Governors of the 12-member group couldn’t agree on the final draft of the plan at a meeting in Vienna earlier this month, the delegates said. The governors disagreed on clauses suggested by some members, including about curtailing output, setting production quotas and finding ways to maximize OPEC profit, according to the delegates.

OPEC ministers are to meet on Dec. 4 to assess the oil market and the group’s output policy. Venezuela and Algeria are among OPEC states most affected by the slump in oil price and have long urged fellow members to curb production and support prices. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, led the group to switch its strategy in November 2014 to focus on pressuring competitors such as U.S. shale producers and reclaiming market share.

Oil tumbled since the middle of last year as U.S. stockpiles and production expanded, creating a global oversupply. OPEC decided at its last meeting on June 5 to keep its production target of 30 million barrels a day unchanged, although the group has exceeded the ceiling for the past 17 months. OPEC member Iran has asked OPEC to accommodate its planned production increase once sanctions are lifted.

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