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Saudi Arabia, Russia agree oil output cuts until March 2018

Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s two top oil producers, agreed on Monday to extend oil output cuts for a further nine months until March 2018 in a bid to erode a global crude glut, pushing up prices.

The timing of the announcement ahead of OPEC’s next official meeting on May 25 and the statement’s strong wording surprised markets, and the move will go a long way to ensure that other OPEC members and other producers who participated in the initial round of cuts fall into line.

In a joint statement that followed an earlier meeting, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak said they had agreed to prolong an existing deal by another nine months until March 2018.

The ministers pledged “to do whatever it takes” to reduce global inventories to their five-year average and expressed optimism they will secure support from producers beyond those in the current deal, the statement said.Under the current agreement that started on Jan. 1, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and other producers including Russia pledged to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) during the first half of the year.

Saudi, the defacto leader of OPEC, and Russia, the world’s biggest producer, together control a fifth of global supplies.

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