Oil prices rise after Russian-Saudi agreement to cap outflow

Crude oil prices surged almost 2.5% to their highest level in two weeks after the world's two biggest producers agreed in principle to extend a deal on output restraint through March of next year.

On Monday, Russian and Saudi energy ministers said in a joint statement that Moscow and Riyadh meant to propose a 9-month extension of the current Vienna agreement on oil output cuts on the existing conditions at the OPEC ministerial meeting in late May.

The next round of cuts will be on the same terms as the existing deal, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said at a joint briefing in Beijing with his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak.

An extension of the cuts at already agreed-upon volumes is needed to reach the goal of paring world inventories to their five-year average, Kuwait's Oil Minister Issam Almarzooq said Tuesday in an emailed statement. US crude was up 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $48.89 per barrel.Both benchmarks have risen more than $5 since hitting five-month lows 11 days ago.

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Non-OPEC oil producers such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, Sudan, and South Sudan agreed to reduce output by 558,000 barrels per day starting from January 1, 2017 for six months, extendable for another six months.

Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia, the largest of the 24 producers that agreed to cut output for six months starting in January, are reaffirming their commitment to the deal amid growing doubts about its effectiveness.

The agency trimmed its estimate for first-half global demand growth by 115,000 barrels a day, citing weaker consumption in "previously solid countries" like India and the USA, yet kept the full-year growth forecast steady.

The ministers said that while they start from the assumption of rolling over the current deal, they also hoped that "a wider circle of countries outside the current group will see the benefit of this cooperation in bringing stability to oil markets, and will join the effort".

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The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was around $52 per barrel in early Tuesday trading, up more than 10 percent from last week. Oil has surrendered about half its gains since the producers' accord to cut output late past year.

Since then Opec ministers have issued a flurry of supportive statements to assure the market that a deal is likely to come from the May 25 meeting.

If OPEC keeps restraining production, stockpiles will fall by 1.5 million barrels a day in the second half.

Oil prices rose on the news, after sinking last week on fears that the supply cuts would not be extended.

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