OPEC+ stays course on oil output boost in August

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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, said on Thursday that they would stick to a previously decided output boost in August despite calls for bigger increases to rein in crude prices.

At its last meeting in early June, OPEC+ decided to advance the planned output increases of 432,000 barrels per day (bpd) for September and redistribute it equally to the previous two months, thus raising production by 648,000 bpd in July and August.

The 30th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting on Thursday confirmed the plan to increase production by 648,000 bpd in August, according to an OPEC statement released after the meeting.

The statement cited "current oil market fundamentals and the consensus on its outlook" as the reasons for the decision.

The oil alliance's decision on Thursday came as crude prices remained high amid continued tight supplies, demand recovery and geopolitical tensions. Prices for both the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and the Brent crude have hovered around 110 U.S. dollars a barrel in recent weeks.

Major oil consumers, including the United States, have been pressing OPEC+ to open taps wider to tame sky-high prices, but the oil producer group has been sticking to its plan of gradual production increases.

OPEC+ slashed oil production massively in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hammered demand. In July 2021, the group agreed to gradually unwind the output cuts and said it aims to fully phase out the cuts by September 2022.

With its planned output increases in September advanced to July and August, OPEC+ has yet to decide on new production targets for September and beyond.

The issue was not addressed in Thursday's statement, but decisions on the subject are expected to be announced at the next OPEC+ ministerial meeting, which will convene on Aug. 3.

U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de facto leader, in mid-July and is widely expected to urge Riyadh to pump more oil to the market.

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