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At best, this weekend's oil producers meeting was only expected to walk away with a sketchy deal to freeze production. Now, with Iran's last minute decision to stay home, even that modest outcome appears in jeopardy.
Early Saturday morning, Iran's oil ministry said no representative would attend the meeting in Doha, Qatar on Sunday. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman reiterated in a Bloomberg interview this week that the kingdom would not hold back on oil output unless other producers, including Iran, did the same.
Analysts say a freeze would do very little to change the world oil glut, but it might help producing nations buy time until the oil market stabilizes. On Saturday, sources in Doha told CNBC that expectations were building for a modest agreement that may help support oil prices and manage market expectations until June's OPEC meeting.
Oil prices have gained sharply over the past two months on high hopes that the Sunday meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC countries will result in a deal to freeze crude production at January levels. But oil analysts now say the best deal producers may agree to could be what seems more like the outlines of an eventual deal.
"There's a lot of rhetoric, a lot of statements around the oil market, but the fundamental thing you have to look at is money. It's revenues, and the revenues of these countries that export oil have really collapsed," said Dan Yergin, vice chairman of IHS.