Saudi oil minister says exporters should 'accelerate' learning and 'get on board fully' with output cuts

OPEC compliance is 'more than excellent': Saudi minister

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Riyadh held "frank and friendly" discussions with oil exporters about cutting oil production as promised.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih urged better delivery from OPEC and 11 other oil producing nations that have vowed to reduce their oil supply.

"It's a learning process for some countries and we want them to accelerate that learning and get on board fully," he told CNBC in a Thursday interview.

Saudi Arabia has been providing the lion's share of the 1.2 million barrels a day the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries committed to removing from the market in November.

In its latest monthly report, OPEC cited secondary sources showing only the kingdom and Angola had cut more than promised in the second month of the deal. Four other producers came above their quotas in February, while Iraq and the United Arab Emirates remain well above their targets.

At the same time, non-OPEC producers have fallen short of cutting 558,000 barrels a day, a level they agreed to in December. Russia, the largest contributor, delivered about a third of its cuts in the first two months of the deal.

Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia's energy and industry minister, speaks to a member of his delegation ahead of the 171st Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016.
Akos Stiller | Bloomberg | Getty Images

That contribution was disappointing, Falih told CNBC last week on the sidelines of the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston.

While Riyadh is doing the heavy lifting, oil markets tumbled on Tuesday after the Saudis reported they raised production above 10 million barrels a day in February. Secondary sources put its output at about 9.8 million barrels a day.

On Friday, Falih said Saudi Arabia has sold its March production and informed its customers about April loadings, and can assure markets the Saudis will continue to cut more deeply than it is required.

"I can tell you with certainty that for the first four months looking at April that Saudi Arabia is going to be well above its commitment, he said.

What keeps OPEC awake at night

"So we're committed, but we also seek equal sharing by others of what they signed up to, and we had frank and friendly discussions in Houston during the conference with some of the countries that were represented, and everybody is happy about this agreement.

Falih said the coordinated output pact to trim supplies to the market is on track and that the kingdom plans to lead by example to cajole continued compliance. The complex deal includes exemptions for Libya and Nigeria and a higher output quota for Iran on the OPEC leg and is joined by other producers including heavyweight Russia.

Kuwait is scheduled to host a ministerial meeting on March 26 with OPEC and non-OPEC nations to review compliance with the output agreement and discuss whether the cuts would be extended beyond June.

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